We left Fantail DoC Camp and drove back down to the turnoff just before Colville, and made our slow way over the hill on the Port Charles Road. At Waikawau, we detached for a few hours, leaving the caravan while we continued in the four wheel drive, north to Port Charles and the Stony Bay DoC Camp. We were glad to have done this; the caravan would have gone okay to Port Charles, but any further would have seen strife with a steep, skinny, twisting road and a bit more traffic than we had seen on the Port Jackson side (three cars today instead of one – might not sound like much but if you meet them with a caravan on the back there’s not much room left for squeezing past one another).
Heading back south along the road from Fantail DoC Camp the pohutukawa trees had our attention, being so finely balanced – leaning out precariously over the waves and seeming so tenuously rooted to the ground.
We turned inland before reaching Colville and headed over the Port Charles Road which only gets to about 100 metres high – funny that, it always feels so much higher when you’re straining to pull a caravan!
Looking towards the Moehau Range from a different perspective – a sign here reminded us of the trapping that goes on to keep the bush of the Coromandel Peninsula free of pests. It doesn’t always look populated here, but there are actually around 30 000 people living on the peninsula so it must be enough to draw pools of trappers from.
Here we are, at Stony Bay DoC Camp, with the caravan safely stowed back in Waikawau (on DoC grounds).
You can just see the camp facility buildings poking out from behind the cabbage trees. The hills are part of the Port Jackson Recreation Reserve, but I guess they are still part of the Moehau Range as well. Moe means ‘sleep’ and hau means ‘wind’ so take your pick which story the name Moehau tells. This would be a wonderful place to stay – wish the caravan was with us. Not having it makes us rush a bit much – perhaps we should be all set up with camping gear as well, although that feels a bit like overkill. It reminds me of a couple we met on the Katikati Peninsula who have a small four wheel drive camper van, just so they can go down any roads they like and stay for as long as they like – while we have to get back to our caravan each night.
A picnic table all made of rocks – no lack of those down on the beach.
Our first glimpse of Great Barrier Island from this side of the peninsula. I saw some photos on facebook of a friend who visited there around this time, flying on a small plane from the mainland, and I SO want to go there too! It looks just lovely, up close as well as far away.
Lots of volcanic rocks lying around even though the base rock is greywacke – it must have washed in from the volcanic areas that lie all around. The beach was quite hard to walk on due to being so stony – you have to get your rock-hopping habits out and honed!
Man made wooden structure there? – or washed up by a storm…?
A northern dotteral! Our second sighting of them.
We walked back across this river – so refreshing! It reminded me that we are still feeling warm in spite of it being mid-winter. People have been telling us it’s a warmer-than-usual winter, which of course leaves us wondering if we should be rejoicing in it given the climate change issues it’s causing.
Another view of Great Barrier Island – and what’s that? Is it a taniwha sitting by the river?
Heading out of the camp ground and along to the beach just next to it.
Ted Ward! We are a bit slack about involving and including Ted in things, I must confess. So today’s his day!! One day I’ll get around to loading some photos onto his facebook page, too.
Back along the road leading away from Stony Bay and into Port Charles.
Some of the material spilling from the banks on the sides of the road. You can never be fooled by looking at New Zealand bush from afar which always looks dark green – when you get up close, there are many different colours to be found everywhere.
Last glimpse of Great Barrier Island. See you again!
On the beach at Port Charles.
A view of Port Charles.
On the road back to Waikawau and our caravan.
Along the coast road between Little Bay and Kennedy Bay we saw these islands, which must be the Mercury Islands, reputed to be one of the first sites of habitation for Māori arriving on the shores of their new land almost 1000 years ago. The largest island, Great Mercury, eventually became overrun by kiore, or rats, and Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite, who own the island today, funded a two year long eradication of all pests on it starting in 2015. This is a fantastic project to read about – you can get to an article from NZ Geographic at https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/treasure-island/ Great Mercury Island would be awesome to visit as well as Great Barrier Island – wouldn’t it be cool to circumnavigate the coastlines of New Zealand, just to visit all the islands off its shores?
Gorgeous flat wetlands of Omoho Stream near Kennedy Bay.
We went past a letterbox looking like a marae, beautifully shaped and painted up, then crossed the Omoho Stream before passing the grown up version of the letterbox! I tried to get photos of the marae, but they didn’t work out – both flashed past before I realised they were there.
A final bit of farmland before we head up and over the hill that leads back to Coromandel, where we will pick up Route 25 to Whitianga.
The hill went up, up, up on a typical Coromandel Peninsula road – shingled, narrow and winding. We summited at 400 metres above sea level, a decent height for towing a caravan. A bit too decent as we were forced to stop two or three times to let the gearbox cool down, in spite of the radiator attached to it. We saw two or three other vehicles on this hill besides us, all travelling slowly, so it turned okay thankfully; we would have hated to cause an accident.
At the top! Way back down the bottom, in the distance and left of the photos, lies Kennedy Bay.
And there in front, where we are headed, lies Coromandel Town.