7 Days on the Road
… Please give us back our food!
Today was wild in some of the most unexpected ways. As you may have guessed, half of it involves seagulls.
Before all that nonsense…
Getting from A to B in the Coromandel Peninsula is a huge adventure in itself, especially when you take the gravelliest of gravel roads from one side of the peninsula to the other in a huge campervan… within a friggin’ mountain range.
Today, we are leaving Coromandel Town on the west side of the Coromandel Peninsula to drive to Whitianga then Hot Water Beach on the east side. There are two routes to do this and we wanted to find the easiest one to navigate a campervan on, as Robin is a still a bit unconfident in manoeuvring our beast of a camper. (Reassuring, isn’t it?)
As you might remember from a previous post, the drive on the Pacific Coastal Highway was a beautiful one, but being so close to the cliff edge gave Robin the heebie-jeebies. If we continue on this route, we’ll eventually arrive in Whitianga. We notice an alternative route going straight through the peninsula, which eliminates the coastal cliff factor, so Robin feels more relaxed about this option. Laura just doesn’t give a sh*t because she is too easy-going for her own good.
309 Road it is!
Perhaps we should see what’s coming when we miss the 309 Road turn-off because it seems to be simply signed: quarry. Is it not obvious from there that this road is not going to be your well-sealed highway?
After doing a u-turn on the road, (you got to love New Zealand for its lack of vehicle traffic), we are driving on the 309 Road which turns to gravel…
Uh oh, Robin is not going to like this, Laura thinks. She turns to look at Robin and his nostrils are flaring in rage. There’s no turning back now. The road isn’t wide enough. We will just have to keep persisting and challenge ourselves to something we’ll inevitably have to do many times in New Zealand anyway: driving the huge campervan on winding gravel roads.
Stuart and his wild Pigs
As we are heading deeper into the forest, we realise this is the road Sarni took us down to see the kauri grove. We remember her saying about all the interesting sights to see along this road, so, whether we have planned it or not, we’re in to see some wicked stuff today starting with Stuart and the Wild Pigs! No, this isn’t a rock band; it’s literally what it is.
Only in New Zealand will you encounter multiple traffic jams created by animals. Today, it was wild pigs. Sarni had told us about a dude called Stuart who lives in the forest collecting wild pigs, and yep, here he is… with all his pigs.
We slowly drive through the pig parade to our next stop, Waiau Falls.
We guarantee you this is going to be the first of MANY waterfalls we are going to see in New Zealand. The track from the roadside is a 30-second walk to the base of the waterfall surrounded by that young rainforest we mentioned in our Kauri Craziness in the Coromandel blog. There’s not much else to say about it other than, check out our pictures!
A moment to appreciate the view
You know what, we can no longer complain about taking a ridiculous gravel road through the mountainous forest madness. The views, especially when looking down at the forest canopy, are beautiful. Plus, driving on a gravel road as well-maintained as this one was not as bad as we imagined. Slow and steady wins the race on these gravel roads.
A proper Kiwi lunch at Whitianga
We now reach Whitianga, not only because it is a pretty harbour town that we are keen to check out, but because it has a huge Warehouse, a bargain department store, so Laura can buy Robin a new insole to replace the one she burnt in this blog post…
Shopping and groceries complete, we decide to have a classic Kiwi lunch, fish n’ chups!
We find this place, Snapper Jacks, which is INSANELY cheap: $10 for two fish, two sausages and a bag of chips. The best place to eat it, as recommended by the Snapper Jacks lady, is on the harbour. We don’t know if she was playing some sort of cruel joke on us, but as we approach the harbour we are faced with a flock of interested seagulls. They sense our presence (and the food we are holding) and start surrounding us…
As long as we guard the food, they can’t touch us.
The awkward seagull incident of 2016
Sitting on a picnic bench, admiring the view, the wind picks up and sweeps the bag of chips away. Nooooo! They land on the floor and the seagulls go f*cking nuts.
We get the hell out of there and watch the show. It is freakin’ hilarious. We are cracking up big time. No wonder the fish & chips were only $10! That lady knew we would lose half of it the f*cking seagulls at the harbour! (We joke of course, but… Dammit!)
After the seagull incident, we decide to calm down by taking a stroll on the beautiful Whitianga beach (which has incredibly sinky sand by the way) before heading back on the road to Hot Water Beach. We’re going to be staying in the Hot Water Beach Holiday Park for the next few nights, while we explore some of the east Coromandel delights, such as Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and we even have some scuba diving lined up. See you on the beach in tomorrow’s blog post!
All we can do is stand back and watch the seagulls
Oh yeah ya do! You can check out what fun things there are to do in east Coromandel in Coromandel – Guide for Backpackers. Take a look at our guide to The Best (and Worst) Seafood to Eat When in New Zealand so you know what sustainable fish to order when getting fish & chips in New Zealand, like we did! To read more about the road we should have taken (but we’re still happy we didn’t because now we can write a guide to the 309 Road), take a look at The North Island Scenic State Highways.
We got some crackin’ photos of today’s chaos, from delightful waterfalls to psycho seagulls! Check out our pretentious landscape photos on Instagram.
See you tomorrow, travel tramps!