Journey along the coast road
So we set off along the Thames Coast. Round and round the road continued to wind, up and up - until something very strange and unexpected happened to Gareth. He suddenly transformed into a tourist and started taking photos of everything! Not that I can blame him, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking, had I been in the passenger seat I would have done the same. Round and round we still went, past blink-and-you-miss-them villages and mussel farms until we arrived at Kuaotunu. Immediately we started to relax; this was what we wanted! Better still, the sun was shining over this side of the mountain, leaving behind the rain and gloom from where we had come. Perfect timing too, as the first day of summer was approaching! We set up camp and then headed off to the beach, just a stone's throw across the road. For the first time since leaving Whangamata we could put our feet up and just 'be'.
Kuaotunu Beach. Perfect for sunbathing, swimming, fishing - actually
we didn't have too much luck in the fishing department, blasted seagulls
stole our bait!
I promised the owners of Kuaotunu Campground I would give them a plug and they really deserve it. If you haven't heard of it before, it's near Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula. The grounds are immaculately kept, the staff are friendly and helpful and the fees are really reasonable, not to mention worth the money. The facilities are excellent from kitchen to bathroom and you really do have everything you need there. It's so peaceful and life there is so simple it's like going back in time. The beach is lovely, there is excellent fishing to be had (no boat required, you can go off the rocks) and a stream backs on to the campground where you can go kayaking as far as the ocean if you like. A group of friendly ducks are never far away either! Dogs are very welcome all year round with the exception of December and January and Minnie loved it there.
Climbing the track to New Chum's Beach
New Chum's Beach. No amount of flashy photography can do this place justice!
Our relaxing stint at Kuaotunu was just what we needed to recharge the batteries and prepare ourselves for our journey up north. If there is one thing we have learned however before travelling to remote places such as these, it is STOCK UP AT A MAIN CENTRE FIRST so you don't get caught short or ripped off! There is only one store in Kuaotunu village. It stocks very little and charges a hell of a lot - and every single camper that we came across had been stung by them. Places like these in the middle of nowhere have people over a barrel as they know perfectly well that visitors have no choice but to pay their insane marked up prices. Some of the items such as meat even have the original price sticker on them from the supermarket, covered up with the new marked-up one! That was the fastest $70 we had ever spent, with absolutely bugger all to show for it.
Still, you live and learn. We won't do that again but apart from that we loved every minute and to top everything off, Corrina (seeing how much we loved the place) asked if we would like to come back next summer and help run the campground over the busy season! We didn't need asking twice!