Having toured South Island with them just months earlier, I was about to embark on a 7-day tour of New Zealand’s North Island with small adventure tour group Haka Tours. After a few days travelling solo in the Bay of Islands, I was back in Auckland at the company’s own Haka Lodge hostel to meet the rest of the group and begin our adventure.
Once the formalities were out of the way, the tour bus was loaded up with our luggage and we were ready to depart for our first night’s stop in Whitianga.
We drove out along the Coromandel Coast stopping at a few beaches along the way including Waiomu as well as stopping at some viewpoints overlooking the coast.
Once in Whitianga, we split into 2 groups to take it in turns to visit Bay Carving where we would get the chance to make our own traditional bone-carved pendant.
My group went to look around the town, passing most of the time in a small cafe getting drinks and ice creams until it was our turn to have a go at making our pendants.
We were given a selection of shapes to choose from including a fish hook and koro (spiral) and the significance of each shape was explained to us to help us decide. Then we were given a rough version of that shape and guided through the process of sanding in down to it’s finished shape and glazing it to perfect it before it was put onto a black string for us to take with us and wear as a souvenir.
After completing our pendants, it was already early evening so we went straight to our nearby hostel where we were staying in small dorms that slept just 4 of us.
That evening, we did a group cook in the hostel kitchen rather than going out for food, a few of us heading back to the local supermarket after to grab some sweet treats for dessert!
The next morning, we were going to visit Cathedral Cove where most of us had signed up to go sea kayaking. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and after an overnight storm, the sea was still to rough and our kayaking session had to be called off. Instead, we parked near to Cathedral Cove and took a short walk along the coast path to get there.
The walk along the clifftop offered plenty of pretty views along the way and when we reached Cathedral Cove it was instantly recognisable from the Chronicles of Narnia film, Prince Caspian.
After spending some time on the beach, it was on to our next stop along the Coromandel Coast – Hot Water Beach.
This beach is famous for providing natural hot springs – if you can put in the effort to dig through the sand to get to the hot water!
Visitors flock to the beach either side of low tide armed with their spades (you can hire one from some of the local shops and cafes if you don’t have one with you!) and dig out their own burrows to sit in filled with the hot water that bubbles up from under the sand. The of the beach where the hot water is found was already packed when we arrived and we struggled to find a space so instead, decided to visit one of the local cafes for lunch.
After lunch, we returned to the beach and had a go at digging for some natural hot spring water, finding enough to at least all put our feet into but deciding against digging our own bath sized hole to sit in like many people had!
After our visit to Hot Water Beach, we stopped at a few more viewpoints but then it was time to say goodbye to the Coromandel and begin the long drive to our next destination, Waitomo.