Wild & Lovely: The Coromandel
"The Coromandel: Good for your soul." This is the tagline you'll read on The Coromandel's tourism website, and after visitng the area, we can say that tagline is ridiculously accurate. Maybe it's because we had our first real glimpse of New Zealand here, but for some reason this area is totally ingrained in our minds. When we look back on our 23 days in NZ, the pureness and wildness of the Coromandel are at the forefront of our fondest memories. Some of the bluest water you've ever seen, soft sandy beaches, dramatic rock formations that cradle the coastline, tide pools teeming with the tiniest critters, wise old forests with trees a thousand years old- whatever you fancy, the wild and lovely Coromandel has it.
The renowned Cathedral Cove is a must-see for anyone visiting the Coromandel. As advised by the many reviews we read, we arrived early to avoid the crowds (thanks, TripAdvisor!). Parking in the main lot can be hard to come by, but we arrived around 8:30am on a Saturday in November and had no problem getting a prime spot! The 1.5- mile hike to the Cove begins on a wooden boardwalk handy to the car park. Stunning views of the rugged coast and turquoise water are first to greet you.
The track descends into native bush and pretty soon you'll see a sign for a quick jaunt to Gemstone Bay & Stingray Bay. We wandered on down to Stingray Bay and were delighted to feel the cool water and admire the old trees reaching out over the inlet.
We headed back to the main track and ascended through the forest high above the coast. After a climb through the trees, we came to an opening that revealed another beautiful perspective of the ocean.
From this point onward, the descent to Cathedral Cove beach is leisurely and gradual. We admired the tree ferns with their fronds unfurling in the springtime sun. Eventually you come to a set of stairs, which marks the last portion of the track down to the Cove. When you turn the corner to the left, the famous arch in the rock awaits!
A took a time-lapse video from inside the arch (only the second one I had ever done) and I love the way it turned out! The amateur time-lapser in me didn't realize you needed so many photos to form a decent length video though, so the four quick seconds this video lasts have to be cherished! Ha! :) P.S. My time-lapse skills improved from there ;)
After spending a couple relaxing hours on the beach taking in the sights, we trekked back to our car. We headed into the nearby town of Hahei for lunch and had delicious pizzas at The Pour House Restaurant (a fitting, calorie-laden meal for our efforts in hiking earlier that day, right?). The rest of our day was spent exploring the area around our beloved yurt at Purangi Garden Accommodation. One of the dear owners, Susan, told us about a magnificent 1000-year-old tree just a short distance from the yurt, which (obviously) we could not pass up! Like many walks in New Zealand, this one began in a cow pasture.
After crossing a few fences, we made our way down to the beach where we found them: The Ents. Trees so massive they make you question your very existence! Magnificent, marvelous, mind-blowing. Take your pick of adjectives- none will do justice to these old beasts.
We walked back up the hill along the pasture fence and eventually ran into the tree Susan had told us about. It was nestled humbly among the other flora, but we got close to take a better look. The moss-laden branches seemed never ending, winding skyward toward the late-afternoon sun. Tiny blue flowers grew quietly in the giant's shadow, but I made sure to notice them and snap their photo. Such beautiful whimsy in nature!
We returned to our yurt and spent our final evening in the Coromandel enjoying the sounds of the bush from our porch as we munched on oranges picked from Susan's orchard right next door. If the Coromandel were a person, we would thank her for her most wonderful hospitality and welcoming us to New Zealand in true Kiwi style. It's safe to say we left a part of ourselves there, and that we will eventually return to her one day. Until then, we will remember her warm sunshiny embrace, deep blue skies and wild seascapes, and the delectable citrus fruits that we still dream about every day.