72. A Circumnavigation Decision

From Coromandel, we decided to continue with circumnavigating the Coromandel Peninsula as much as possible – there’s actually only one route that will take a caravan so it was a planning job soon done. There’s no link road across the northern most point of the peninsula, so backtracking is required to reach the north from both the western and the eastern sides.

We didn’t visit the Historic Gold Town in Coromandel to our disappointment; it’s only open a few days each week and didn’t coincide with our timing. Neither did we go to the Coromandel Museum which was an oversight as people told us that along with the rock collection in the Thames School of Mines, the Coromandel Museum houses another fabulous collection.

While still in Coromandel, we took a morning drive along the coast to Long Bay. Inside the Long Bay Motorcamp an hour long track loops past the Big Kauri Tree which we happily visited.
This is the Big Kauri Tree. By the time we dawdled and played spot-the-kauri-tree we probably took quite a bit longer than an hour – we go by the philosophy that we’ll only be here once and take our time accordingly! Actually the motorcamp would be a fabulous place to stay next time, then we could do the walk for a few days running.
Back to Coromandel to hook up the caravan, and off we go again – all the way up to the DoC Camp at Fantail Bay.
Small islands – everywhere!
Snapping a shot of mangroves while crossing a bridge somewhere near Colville.
Along the final stretch of coast after Colville.
The road is narrow and winding, and towards the end went over some steep bluffs. It’s a well maintained metalled road and while we were moving cautiously it was more because we had to be careful of oncoming traffic rather than because of potholes and roughness. We met a grand total of one car; and that was in a place where we could both keep driving, easily pulling over slightly so we could slide past one another.
We saw many of these huge old pohutukawa trees; it was pretty magic to drive along with them stretched out on either side like great bent pillars, sometimes touching their tips together so we were actually driving beneath them.
We heard this jetty, built of Coromandel Granite, is a good spot to fish for kahawai.
Here it is! The Fantail DoC Camp.
Washing Day – tap and tub style! We set up our Kathmandu shelter as we were still getting regular rain showers coming over – it’s still been like that for the whole of our North Island trip so far; on and off rain. That night a real storm passed through and everything was as wet as when I’d first hung it, but nothing had fallen over, miracles happen! We’d really fixed it down though, with pegs in every corner and guy ropes on every side; and you can see that Kevin bungeed our 20 litre water drum to the clothes line. So really, it would have taken a full-on tornado to make anything shift.

We had a quite softly-spoken man parked up next to us for the few days we stayed and had some nice chats with him. He was there to fish and had a little freezer set up that already had a few fish in it; we heard from someone else that he’d won the 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza Surf Casting Competition a few years back.

On our day of arrival he told us the red car in the photo above belonged to a solo tramper. I suspected she might be a trapper and tried to catch her coming out (I helped out with trapping on the Grampians in Nelson for a decade before leaving on our trip so it’s always interesting to find out what other people do), but managed to miss her completely. Must’ve been on the beach with those noisy crashing waves…
Beautiful samples of Coromandel Granite.
One rare fine day I walked up a track behind the camp to an altitude of 700 metres, onto the Moehau Range. At the lower end were these long grooves cut into the hillside which had me wondering – maybe they were age-old Maori fortifications. Or something.
There’s a faint rainbow to be seen out there, stretching off to the left – see it? We’ve seen more rainbows in the north of the North Island than we’ve ever seen in our lives – in Northland and the Far North we were seeing them daily, sometimes more.
You can see a long way back in the direction of the Coromandel township…
…and in the other direction – out of the mouth of the Hauraki Gulf. I guess I should have been able to see Little Barrier Island, but couldn’t due to the cloud on the horizon. I guess the next stop for my viewing tunnel would be Japan. When you stand on beaches around the coast of New Zealand it’s pretty amazing the number of countries that are in our line of vision – or would be at least, if we could see that far!
This is New Zealand’s native clematis.
Through a manuka grove…
…to this sign on the ridge.
I got back down in plenty of time to catch the sun setting in a pale sky.
Oh – here’s a UV torch photo. I took my UV torch out after dark to see if I could spot any critters in the trees and got quite excited to see this glowing patch on the ground. I took a photo using a flash but it was impossible to see anything else about it – the night was just about as pitch black it could get. I was most disappointed next morning to find it was just a wad of paper of some sort!

We took ourselves off to Port Jackson and the Fletcher Bay Recreation Reserve on one of our days staying at Fantail Camp. I totally forgot the camera, good skills! Port Jackson had a long, long motorcamp with good facilities and a beach that’s easy to walk on, and at Fletcher Bay we could see Great Barrier Island, clear as day! All around us was farmland, with bush on the tops of the hills. There was a campervan at Fletcher Bay, but it seemed no one was home; we figured they might be on the walkway to Stony Bay and Port Charles. This track is the only land link between Port Jackson and Port Charles – the road doesn’t go through. We walked onto the beach at Fletcher Bay and climbed over some rocks onto another beach at the western end which was fun, but the tide was in and we couldn’t get any further around. The cliffs and rock formations were fantastic; I was disappointed at forgetting the camera.

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