2 Days on the Road
Opening the front door in the morning to a new back garden of steep forested hills and the sound of the nearby flowing river is definitely something we don’t mind getting used to. What’s more, our early-morning starts for work give us the chance to catch the stars, already shining so much brighter in The Coromandel than in Auckland City. We can only imagine what the stars will be like once we hit the South Island in some of the best stargazing sites in the world! Gah!
As you can see, now that we are on Day 2 of our New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year, excitement for what is to come is setting in. Nevertheless, we are still embracing the moment of being in the gateway to the Kauaeranga Valley, with some of the world’s most ancient and largest trees, the kauri. We can’t wait to finally get exploring this valley today.
Which hike to do in Thames?
First things first, we get our first morning on the road off to a goody-goody-gumdrops start by doing some work. (It isn’t all play and no work here at the NZPocketGuide.com campervan, ya know!) We then fill ourselves with eggs, toast and oranges for the hike ahead.
If you remember yesterday, we said we wanted to tackle The Pinnacles, which is an 8-hour hike and one of the most popular walks in The Coromandel. However, the weather is being so unpredictable at the moment. We are literally experiencing four seasons in a day, as they say in New Zealand. Plus, Robin wants to check the tyre pressure before we bomb down gravel roads in the campervan. Irresponsible Laura doesn’t care about this, but supposes he is right…
What’s our alternative option? The Waiomu Kauri Grove!
We didn’t know much about what to expect from this walk, (there’s some kauri trees?), but we always feel that’s the best way to do any short hike in New Zealand. It leaves room for surprise, don’t you know?! There’s also this weird feeling when your eyes gaze upon some pretty natural features, especially since we have travelled New Zealand before. Surely we know what to expect from the landscape? But, even when you think you have seen it all, New Zealand just blows your brains out when you actually witness the epicness for yourself. (No, epicness is not a word, but whatever).
That feeling hit us when we drove along the coastal road out of Thames, just a 15-minute drive to the Waiomu Kauri Grove. The windy road with ocean on one side, sheer cliff faces on the other, and small beaches with rocky outcrops popping up every so often can only be described as giving us a pang of excitement in our chests. Oh, New Zealand…
The wet foot incident of 2016
Anyway, enough bumming over New Zealand. Despite only being a one hour walk (one way), it’s pretty amazing how quickly you feel like you’re deep in the wilderness on the Waiomu Kauri Grove trail. Ok, so there was about 15 minutes of 4×4 gravel road to start with, including a ford which was MUCH deeper than anticipated. This was the moment Robin realised his hiking shoes were not waterproof… For Godssake! This is what happens when you take a city boy on a hike.
But the retail assistant said they were waterproof… Robin bitches about his purchase probably from some shitty designer store two years ago. This is another example of practicality in your hiking gear trumping the design. He should have got some hiking shoes from Torpedo7 when he had the chance…
Now with Robin squelching at every step, we continue deeper into the forest, the track turning single-file. The longer we walk the more wild the track becomes, the highlight being where the track is wedged between mossy cliff walls and a steep river gorge.
After having lunch on the riverside, we continue to those kauri we have heard so much about. (You can read more about the kauri hype in Why is New Zealand so Fascinated with Kauri?) These giants of the forest stick out way above the rest of the native trees. The end of the Kauri Grove hike is marked by the star of the show, the Waiomu Kauri. We give it a hug (this is the only way to demonstrate how effing huge these tree beasts are) and return the same way.
Back at the Dickson Holiday Park
We say hi to our lovely hosts, Cindy and Neil, who just arrived back at the holiday park after going on a kitchen-unit acquiring mission. We like what they’ve done with the holiday park so far since they took over management two weeks ago. It’s super clean, is in a beautiful location, and has a good emphasis on being sustainable with more recycling bins than you can imagine. Thumbs up!
Until tomorrow’s antics, we are going to cook ourselves some creamy mushroom pasta (with fresh parsley from the holiday park kitchen). We’re also going to hope that the weather stays dry for the next couple of days so we can go canyoning with CanyoNZ!
*Edit: Don’t Hug a Kauri Tree
We would like to formally apologise for hugging that kauri tree in the below image. Since we spent some time with the great team at Coromandel Adventures, we learned that standing at the base of a giant kauri and giving it a hug is essentially killing it with kindness. This highlights one of New Zealand’s biggest challenges at the moment – spreading the message of kauri dieback and the precautions we all need to take when we are visiting the forest.
It is essential that to minimise the spread of kauri dieback visitors to the forest should clean their gear before and after entering the forest on every visit, stay on tracks (we did all of that), but also stay well away from the roots of the Kauri tree to avoid causing damage to the fine feeder roots surrounding the tree and increasing the risk to the tree enormously. Therefore, unless there is a boardwalk allowing us to go right up to the tree we must simply admire, honour, value and respect from a distance.
This is the last hug that you are getting from us, kauri tree!
Gotta love those trees
Of course! We are so inspired by the holiday park’s eco-friendly ways, we thought we’d share with you, How to be a Green Backpacker. For more information on the Kauri tree fascination in The Coromandel, take a look at Why is New Zealand so Fascinated with Kauri? And, for more awesome hikes like the Kauri Grove, check out 16 Awesome Hikes in The Coromandel.
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See you tomorrow, travel tramps!