February 8, and 9, 2014
It was time to leave Omapere. I arrived at my retreat a little disappointed and left knowing that I would return. The weather was not good the entire time I was there. Wait! I take that back. The weather over Omapere was great. But the moment you headed up to the Northland, it started to rain and blast wind at you. Perhaps it was those particular days, but it makes a person think…I don’t know. I had such a wonderful time in the South and with the weather in the North, all I could think of was going back to the South and wishing I had spent more time in the South. But after my experience with Footprints Waipoua, I have renewed spirits. So I was looking forward to getting down to the Coromandel Peninsula and Whitianga. However, my GPS was not cooperating. It was worse than when I was down in the South. This time it it ‘ftzzed’ me several times before freezing or it would tell me I had 22 km to go and after 24 km it still had 22 km for me to go. The GPS was having a nervous breakdown. And it’s not like I can just stop on the side of the road. There’s not a lot of shoulder on these roads. So resetting the machine while the car is in motion is crazy dangerous. This lovely machine now has me reviewing the maps the night before just incase she goes crazy again. My trip to Whitianga from Omapere should’ve taken me only 5 hours. Let’s just say that extra hour was backtracking and stopping and resetting and it’s a miracle I didn’t throw it out the window and run over it like possums, stouts and rabbits! That was the most frustrating day of driving ever! But I eventually arrived at my hostel in Whitianga. Oh, and on a side note, it’s pronounced ‘fit-tee-anga’. “WH” is pronounced as an ‘f’. So arriving at my hostel. I had a huge place all to myself. It was acceptable. I’ve stayed in worse places. If you actually have something to do in this town, then this is the place for you to stay, but if you’re looking to go to the Hot Water Beach and the Cathedral Cove, you could try for a different town to stay in. You drive right passed these two places to get to Whitianga. Had I known this, I probably would not have stayed there. But the hostel is right across the street from the beach which is very nice. The people who run the place are also super helpful and very friendly as well. And what made it a little more special was the fact that I could see the stars again in the night sky. Since we were right on the beach, I could head out and just look up. It wasn’t quite the same as my little piece of heaven. But it was still nice to see Orion’s belt and to see the Southern Cross again. That evening, I went out for dinner at a Chinese food restaurant and had roast duck on rice. I miss roast duck. And as with all Chinese food, I was hungry just a few hours after eating. What’s with that?
Anyway, the next morning, I was all set to head out to the Cathedral Cove and what happens? Two things that I never thought would happen. I blew out my hairdryer and then I locked my car keys in the trunk, with the doors locked and me on the outside. I knew as soon as I flicked my wrist to slam the trunk that I was in trouble. Before the trunk went ‘thunk’ I knew what I had done. Honestly, I could hear the GPS laughing at me. I had things to do! Beaches to go to! Hikes to attend to! I didn’t have time for this! So I experience New Zealand ingenuity for the first time. Someone at the hostel was able to get into the car for me. Thank goodness. I won’t divulge names or methods. But it was done in such a way so that there was no signs of tampering. Thank goodness. But my friend was telling me that it was getting harder and harder these days to get into locked cars nowadays. He told me one story of this guy who owned a fancy car, I think he said it was an Audi and it was one of those keyless entry cars and he locked his keys into the trunk like I did. The garage could not get into it and eventually the guy said to take a sledge hammer and smash the window. It was a $100,000 car! After smashing the window, they still could not get the doors open. And they couldn’t pop the trunk. They needed the key to pop the trunk. Finally it had to be towed to Auckland so that they could go to a dealership to get it open. So when my door was open, my friend went on to trying to get into the trunk through the back seat. But before he could jiggle around with it, I said we should just try the lever first. Thank goodness my car is not a fancy Audi. Stupid Keys locked in Trunks! I lost an hour because of you.
So it was Beach or Hike. I chose hike. So I kept driving right passed Cathedral Cove and onwards to Paeroa. And 7 km passed Paeroa, I stopped at Karangahake Gorge and walked for about an hour and a half. Choose the Railway Tunnel Loop. It’ll take you to a part of the Windows Walk. The best part was the Railway Tunnel. Might I suggest long pants that you aren’t too concerned about getting muddy. If you wear shorts, well…there is a river at the end of the tunnel that you can walk down to, to scrub yourself clean. Also bring a flashlight. Two, if you forget to take your sunglasses off. It is a lighted tunnel, fine if you’ve got regular glasses. Not so if you only have prescription sunglasses. Feel free to sing aloud as well. It’s got great acoustics. Beware that the path and tunnel is shared with cyclists. The river where you washed the mud off, you’ll be walking along the path by the river and it will eventually take you back to the parking lot where you first started off. You will end up crossing over two swing bridges and going through one very long tunnel. Very enjoyable. I’m glad I chose the hike over the beach. A suggestion, get to the Gorge early. Tour busses stop here. Lots of people stop here. It is quite popular. And parking is limited. I was very tempted to leave but I waited a bit and was lucky to get a spot right across from the toilets.
Afterwards, I crossed the highway very carefully and grabbed myself a can of L & P, Lemon and Paeroa at the Talisman Cafe. It was a hot day and I still had a ways to go before my final destination. The holiday park that I would be staying at is located just on the shore of Ohiwa beach. A very lovely location. It’s a shame I didn’t take pictures when I first got there. The water was in so it was very lovely. I took photos in the morning but the tide was out so it wasn’t as pretty.The lady who checked me in was very friendly and helpful about the East Cape Road. She made suggestions on where to stop for really good ice-cream and told me about the road. She also said that for anyone who choses to stay at places along that road, travellers should always ask to see the place first before accepting it. I had booked the Hicks Bay Motel and not the holiday park. She said that if I had booked the holiday park, she was going to tell me to check the place first for acceptability first. A very good tip to know for future trips! She also said that I should fill up on gas in Opotiki and get my supplies in town before heading out along the East Cape Road. Again, good tips. So, knowing that it was only a three hour drive to Hicks Bay, I made the decision to head back to Whakatane the next day:
- to get supplies: food, gas and foundation (apparently my make-up is too light for me. I guess 60 SPF is not all it used to be, or at least not in NZ. I’m quite a few shades darker.)
- to get a new travel adapter, since I discovered the adapter wasn’t working for all my electrical stuff, not just my blowdryer, and
- to find a sewing/repair place. My lovely hobbit backpack is ripping at the seams and I can’t use it anymore until it’s repaired. I may have to wait till I return home, but if I can get it done here, then I can continue to use it rather than have it locked away safely in my suitcase.
Funny thing, here in Ohiwa, which in my mind is more remote than Omapere, I was able to access internet. So the rest of the evening, I spent updating photos on my older posts. And the door was wide open to get some refreshing breeze and no sandflies, even though we were so close to the beach. Though Laurence did say that the North Island has mosquitoes and no sandflies. Sigh!
Wish you were all here! Luv, Aunty!