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A line by Jack Nicholson, delivered in the slow deliberate way Jack does better  than anyone “You know, I can’t help thinking  it’s just about as good as it gets”. No idea what the film is but, As good as it gets, would be my guess if that is a name of a film. Anyway, our ride around the Coromandel Peninsula continues in a way that Jack would certainly describe as “as good as it gets”.

rather tropical

A day off in Whangamata was just what the doctor had ordered. On any day off the legs really do not recover until the afternoon of the second day. The morning is almost worse for the inactivity and then by about 2.30pm something magical happens and you feel able to continue again, unless of course it is raining in the morning.

The road stayed flat for a while and then went resolutely upward. This had not happened for a while and came as a bit of a shock for all concerned. The landscape that was passing by had become even more tropical with any cuts the road made being into volcanic red and yellow crumbling rock.

Esther climbing

Not too tight bend ahead then.

There are good things to report of the roads here in New Zealand. Fantastic smooth surface with hardly a pot hole in site, and the few that are often have a mend me now yellow spray marking. One system of signing is a great idea here. Just before bends there is a speed indication of the max speed for that bend. Now, obviously, the idiot drivers here treat these as pace notes in a sort of Sebastian Loeb, WRC sort of way. They do however help the descending cyclist judge the corners. If it says 35 then pull on the brakes, but 50 and above you can lean the bike and its heavy panniers over with a confidence that you will still be on the bike and riding tarmac on the other side of the bend. Nice simple idea, eh?


Tairua was where the tent was pitched for the night. Just big enough to support a number of lovely cafes, one of which was the venue for a coffee to start the day, which is something of a ritual now we have a more relaxed schedule. We paid for it in effort as the first 4k involved a lactic producing 200 meter climb. We took a right at Whenuakite to explore.

Morning climb

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water - a very neat trick.

Hot Water Beach has a very neat trick. You dig a hole, just as you would do in any other beach. Here the hole fills with warm spring water as the thermal activity heats up the water just bellow the sand. The Kiwis charge $5 to hire a small spade, which must be the most expensive childs spade hire in the known universe.

Thermal area down there.

A series of climbs and downs takes you round towards Hahei Beach and then a final leg busting k or so to the start of the path to Cathedral Cove. It is a long walk in and cost not a thing, which is unusual indeed. It is staggeringly beautiful and we caught it on a perfect day. If we had got around here two months ago we would have been just in time to see all of the access path swept away into the sea and again we have been so lucky.

Cathedral Cove 1

Cathedral Cove 2

The Cathedral

We had an appointment with a ferry. Not for us the slog around the coast as we were going to be taken the 400 meters across the bay to Whitianga ( The Wh pronounced with a F sound as in Fizz, or so we are told ). The little town looks proposterous, with any number of places for food. We pitched the tent and walked around and around amazed at the prices and then scurried to SubWay for evening meal on the cheap.

Ferry to Whitianga

Esther had booked a short course in bone carving for our day off. She was thrilled with it and the resulting carved Merino horn water themed pendent. I hope the people of Whitianga realise what a fantastic place they live in and what idyllic lives they have. I tried to tell them about living in Scotland and the misery of rain. I turned on the computer ”  There you are 6*c in Edinburgh”. You try planning a  day out with that.

Sea inspired Merino Horn carving.

Bone Carving workshop.