16.01.2014 - 16.01.2014
This was our first day on our official Stray tour, the bus was a lot bigger than I had expected. Not sure why as there are pictures of them on the website! There were 37 of us on the bus that day and so it was good to have a few familiar faces from the city tour the day before. First stop was at the Stray head office where we were given a presentation on how the service works and had the opportunity to ask any questions. Then it was back on the bus as we headed for the Coromandel Peninsular. It was great to see the landscape change as we headed out of the city. We had been advised to make the most of sleeping on the bus on the north island as you won't want to miss any of the dramatic scenery in the south island, but there was no way I was sleeping that morning as we got our first to glimpses of this beautiful country.
We stopped off at a town called Thames, which is an old Colonial town that is surrounded by the Coromandel Ranges, to stock up on supplies. Not a bad backdrop.
The river running through here reminded Captain Cook of the Thames in London and so this is how the town got its name. When this area was settled a lot of the Kauri forest was cut down and so now the town is trying to undo that damage by planting 1000s of Kauri Trees. The most famous Kauri tree in New Zealand is thousands of years old and 30 people can link arms around its trunk!
The first highlight of the day was going to Hot Water Beach, where you can dig holes in the sand which fill up with hot water that comes up front the natural springs. As we pulled up to the beach we were surprised how many people there were.
I think we have been spoilt by the near deserted beaches in Perth and so had been expecting a more secluded experience. Putting that aside we headed to the section of the beach where clearly all the activity was going on. People armed with spades were digging holes and we decided to just go and put our feet in one that had been abandoned rather than hire a spade ourselves.
Be careful though as some of them were really hot, like a scalding bath!
After lunch on the beach we were back on the bus to go to Hahei where we would be staying in lodges by Hahei beach. There was an option to do a kayaking trip to the famous Cathedral Cove but we decided to walk there in stead.
Check out Hahei beach! This is more like it!
The walk to Cathedral Cove was beautiful with great views back out over Hahei beach.
The scenary along the walk really changed from flowered paths and forest to places reminiscent of the shire!
The cove itself is pretty impressive, with an natural stone archway that you go through which I think is where it gets its name from as it could be as big as a cathedral!
We definately had worked up an appetite as the walk takes about 2 hours and goes up and down quite a bit, so we were glad to have opted in to the group BBQ that night. Our driver Kea had done a great job getting it ready for everyone and ther was plenty to go round. It had been a long time since we had last travelled in a group of people and so it was great to hear about other people's adventures and also get involved in a game of Werewolf!
Not a bad first day with Stray!