The Coromandel, New Zealand

A few weekends ago I spent the weekend on the Coromandel Peninsula, on the North Island of New Zealand. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best, I arrived in the middle of tropical cyclone Lusi, but I tried to make the most of the weekend. The weather on Saturday was that bad, that we had to stay in for the day. We ventured out a bit in the afternoon, but it was so wet, that you couldn’t really get out of the car.

Sunday was a little better. The rain had eased and we had a few patches of sunshine. We went for a walk to Cathedral Cove, which would have been absolutely stunning on a beautiful day. However, even though the weather wasn’t the best, it was worth the 1.5 hour round trip. The weather improved in the afternoon, and we managed to beat the tide and arrive at Hot Water Beach just in time to dig for the hot water. It was actually quite amazing – you have to search for the hot water, which is found in pockets along a 10 meter strip of the beach. You might dig and find hot water, but a foot away from you the person digging cannot. And the hot water is right beneath the service – you only have to dig a few centimetres to find it. So we joined the group of people frantically digging in search of hot water.

The afternoon was getting on, so we turned back and headed slowly back to Auckland.

I’m off to Japan in a few weeks, so stay tuned for some photos from Japan!

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Essentials

Getting There:
There isn’t a proper public transport system along the Coromandel Peninsular, so it’s best to drive. From Auckland, get onto State Highway 1, and then to State Highway 2. From there just follow the signs to the Coromandel.

Stay:
We stayed at the Top Ten Caravan Park at Hot Water Beach. Their cabins, especially their delux cabins are cosy and comfortable. And it is walking distance from Hot Water Beach and a couple of cafes.

Eat:
Being a rural area, with only a few small towns, there isn’t the greatest choice in cafes and restaurants, but the cafes we managed to find had fantastic food. We had great meals at both cafes at Hot Water Beach – the blueberry and banana pancakes at Hot Waves Cafe were great. Also try the Seafood Chowder at Cafe Luna in Hahei – delicious!

 

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Wellington + Surrounds, New Zealand

A few weekends ago, my boyfriend and I, along with a couple of friends, met in Wellington to spend three days visiting the city and exploring the surrounding countryside.

Wellington is a relatively small city, and a day is enough to adequately experience the city (if you decide against visiting the Te Papa Museum). If you want to visit the museum, perhaps add another day, as I’ve been told that you need almost an entire day to get the most out of the complex. But a day is long enough to walk up to Mt Victoria to experience the incredible view over the city, take a walk along the harbour foreshore, enjoy a relaxing lunch in Cuba Street whilst listening to the street performers, visit Parliament House (known as The Beehive) and take a the cable car to Carter Observatory and wander through the Botanical Gardens. End the day with dinner at one of the many restaurants found in downtown Wellington, and don’t forget to stop for some gelato at Kaffee Eis.

We spent our second day further afield, visiting the wineries of Martinborough, including a delicious lunch amongst the vineyards. After lunch we headed to Cape Palliser (the southern most point of the north island). Here we stopped to take photographs of the seals (it was so incredible how close they allowed us to be) and climbed to the top of the lighthouse to witness the magnificent view.

After a comfortable night spent in Martinborough, day three was spent visiting the beach and lighthouse at Castlepoint. Again the east coast of the north island did not disappoint in its beauty. After a delicious and entertaining lunch in funky Greytown cafe, we headed back to Wellington and in a flash the weekend was over.

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Essentials

Getting There:
There are regular flights with a number of airlines from Sydney and Auckland, as well as other centres. Signup for Air New Zealand or Jetstar newsletters, as they often advertise specials. Wellington Airport is close to the centre. From about 7am to 8pm there is a bus every 20 minutes to the centre. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or the Super Shuttle.

Stay
In Wellington we stayed at Trek Global Backpackers. The rooms were clean, although a little noisy, but that’s to be expected in backpacker accommodation. In Martinborough, we were very impressed with the Top 10 Caravan Park, staying in their double cabins. Although small, they were extremely cosy and had that at home feel about them

Eat
Food in and around Wellington is something to rave about. In Wellington, try Sweet Mothers Kitchen, located in Courtney Place for some home food with a Mexican twist. Don’t forget to stop by Kaffee Eis, located a few doors down, for dessert. In Martinborough we had a delicious lunch The Vineyard Cafe at Margrain Vineyard Cellar Door, and in Greytown we had the most amazing chicken, bacon and egg burgers at Cahoots Cafe.

Matapouri Bay, New Zealand

A few weekends ago, I visited my boyfriend (who is currently living in Auckland, New Zealand) and we spent a weekend away with some friends in Northland, namely in Matapouri Bay. Many New Zealanders and foreigners alike constantly rave about the south island of New Zealand, but I think the north island is also spectacular (ok, I haven’t been to the south island yet).

Matapouri Bay, and the surrounding bays and beaches was breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, we had a bit of overcast weather which put a grey hue on the landscape, but once the sun came out, it sparkled. This area is perfect for walking, swimming and just enjoying the sunshine. There isn’t a whole lot to do if you need constant stimulation like me, but it’s a perfect place for a weekend away with friends and loved ones.

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Essentials:

Getting There:
We hired a car in Auckland and drive north. There are plenty of road signs along the way, so you don’t even need a GPS, or a map, but these could definitely be of assistance. It’s a leisurely 2.5 to 3 hour drive from Auckland, providing that there isn’t any traffic.

Stay:
Many people rent houses, known as baches, in beachside towns along the north island. Prices and standards vary, but there are plenty of options for every taste and budget. We found our accommodation on http://www.bookabach.co.nz.

Eat:
There aren’t many facilities in Matapouri Bay. If you have self-contained accommodation, stop in a supermarket in Whangarei for supplies for the weekend on your way to Matapouri. For a weekend away with friends, make sure you have a good supply of drinks, chocolate and other nibblies.