Winding down  

After the Whanganui River Journey and Ruapehu Crater Walk, our walking / tramping tour of New Zealand was over. It was time to wind down and what better way to do it than check out some of the eastern coastline of the North Island as we slowly headed back to Auckland to sell the car and leave for home.

It seemed strange not to be planning another tramping expedition, but our thoughts were slowly turning back to home.

Time for a few different means of locomotion other than Shank's pony


From the central plateau we headed across to Opitiki in the Bay of Plenty for a few days. Last stop before heading out into the East Cape, Opitiki sits on a long stretch of pale grey sand; a great place to sit and watch the surf roll in from the Pacific Ocean, ride a few waves on a surf kayak and wander slowly along the beach towards the fading blue silhouettes of the rugged East Cape mountains stretching out into the ocean.

The fishing lesson - Waihai Beach

Playing in the surf - Opitiki


Opitiki sunset


Leaving Opitiki, we made a short detour inland back to Rotorua to say goodbye to some of the friends who had helped us along the way - old colleagues from Oz and now ex-pats in New Zealand. It was good to see how life was working out well in their new home.

Still and brooding atmosphere over Lake Rotorua

Just another ex-pat at Rotorua

Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula juts out northward into the Pacific Ocean from the Bay of Plenty. We made our first base at Whitianga, a placid town on beautiful Mercury Bay.

Setting out on a pair of rented mountain bikes, we crossed the harbour by ferry and rode past a number of white sandy beaches and headlands to Hahei Beach, start of a short walk along a rugged coastline to Cathedral Cove. It was a perfect Indian summer day and our thoughts turned back to our walk down the south coast of New South Wales as we lay on the white sand or admired the mountain backdrop, the superb coastal cliffs and the offshore islands.

The following set of photos hopefully show why one day we plan to come back and spend some more time in this beautiful part of New Zealand.

Lonely Bay and Cook's Beach

A new way of seeing the coast

Greenstone Bay

The lush Coromandel Coast

Sea Arch at Cathedral Cove

Hahei Beach

Coromandel coastline and Mercury Bay

Mare's Leg Cove

Coastal vegetation

Cathedral Cove

Morning sunlight over the islands of Mercury Bay

Two more days of relaxation at isolated Kuaotonu confirmed for us that this is a special part of the world. At last we were having the fine weather that the North Island had denied us when we first arrived.

View across Whangapoua Harbour towards Castle Rock

The pristine sands of New Chum's Beach


Back in the big city again, we visited some more ex-pat friends to say goodbye and then it was time to sell the car. it was with some sadness that we took our Nissan Bluebird down to the Ellerslie Car Fair. The finality of our trip was driven home as we left it with its new owner - it had served us well and was an integral part of our long journey.

One day left and time to kill - a ferry trip out to Waiheke Island seemed a good way to fill it. Lying in the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke is a trendy extension of Auckland where every second shop seems to sell real estate. Still, in the middle of the week on a warm autumn day it is a pleasant place and you can escape civilisation to some extent by wandering around the rocky coves of its coastline. With vineyards and olive groves lining the coastal hills, it almost felt like we were in the Mediterranean.

Auckland skyline from the ferry

Matiatia Bay- Waiheke Island

Big Oneroa Beach on Hekerua Bay - Waiheke

Waiheke coastscape - looking over Fossil Bay

Coromandel sunset

We flew out of Auckland on the 20th of April, bound for the Cook Islands; a little bit of the tropics and then home. It would be good to be home again and it was definitely time. After 7 months on the road, the concept of home was becoming blurred.

One thing was clear though - we would be back. There were many tracks still to be tramped and many places that we wanted to take a longer, slower look at.

Life's adventure is never over.


Inducted into the Tramping Hall of Fame

My 8-year old Mephisto Walking Boots

Retired after the New Zealand adventure having walked:-
all the Great Walks of New Zealand in 6 months
and the Great South Coast Walk, plus
tracks in 6 continents (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America)

Farewell New Zealand - Haera ra Aotearoa