Coromandel Peninsula, NZ: are the hot spots worth it?

One of my stops on the North Island a few weeks ago was the Coromandel Peninsula. Its an area just to the east of Auckland (around a 90 minute drive). With only a day or so in the area, I made sure to stop by the “top spots”. When researching where to go, the main two places were: Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach…. so its safe to assume I made sure to stop by.


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If you are headed this way: RENT A CAR! The drives everywhere are gorgeous and filled with endless pull-offs.

Stop one: Paeroa

I stayed in an Airbnb just south of the peninsula in a small town called Paeroa. It is home to the famous Kiwi drink “L&P” (theres an L&P cafe, and a massive L&P bottle in the middle of town). But back to the important stuff, my air bnb; it was behind this adorable, rustic cafe called The Refinery.

I’m really bummed I didn’t get the chance to sit down and take it all in (I was running around like a maniac, no surprise). They had a wide array of coffee (which i had on the go), food and also a cute front courtyard filled with lots of greenery.

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Stop two: Thames

Thames is small town just on the southern west coast of the Coromandel. As you can tell from me above, I decided to have lots of fun being a marine biologist (my friends thought I looked like Darla from Finding Nemo, which i now can see).

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More beach sunset pics???? of course!!!

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stop three: Waiau Falls

The next day started with some gorgeous coastal drives (I highly support the western coastal road to drive on, here’s some proof).

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I decided to make the trip up to Waiau Falls. Whats very convenient, is its located just off the road; what is inconvenient, is its located down a windy gravel road that cuts through the center of the peninsula. The North Island really takes the cake with breathtaking trees (don’t worry South Island, cabbage trees I love you). Of course the renown silver ferns, and other ferns for that matter, never disappoint.

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is it worth the trip? I would give it a 50/50 depending if you feel comfortable driving down a loose gravel road.


stop four: Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is on the Eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. It is really easy to find with lots of signs helping the lost tourists, like me. It is famous for its “Cathedral” shaped rock formation (wow, cathedral at Cathedral Cove???), which paints the frame for a gorgeous white sand beach.

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What they don’t tell you, is to get to Cathedral Cove you have to hike up and down a winding path from the car park. Even though the walk one-way only takes about 25 minutes, I wouldn’t say its the kind of stroll to do in flip flops; the scenery is stunning so it made the steep inclines worth it. Of course being a tourist beach it is going to be crowded but the beach wraps around a bit so there’s plenty room to explore. What I found funny, was there was a water taxi that was around 15$-20$ per person and apparently drops you off closer to the car park to decrease your hike up. It was very popular but I was perfectly fine walking it (more money for coffee). I would block off at least 2 hours to do the trip, enjoy the view and walk back.

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is it worth the trip? 100% a must-see!


stop five: Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is just south of Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel. A hot water stream runs underneath the beach and is exposed around low tide; it is recommended to visit in the period two hours before or after low tide to feel the “hot water”.

(sorry I have no photos! I didn’t want to get my phone soaked!)

It was very crowded; what they don’t tell you is how small the area of the geothermal “hot water” actually is. So most of the foreigners (like me), who went to visit and try their luck, found themselves on the sidelines waiting for a group to leave to take their already dug-out pool. No it is not impossible, but I am assuming those who snatched a good spot in the sand got there well before the recommended two hours before the tide. On top of that, 50% of the already small geothermal beach area makes it difficult to keep a continuous pool of water. As you can guess, the sand caves in, or gets pushed in, or gradually builds up over time.

The pool me and my friends ended up snatching was a decent sized one but was further away from the water. The water was BURNING hot, so the family who dug it had the hot water streaming into a pool of cooler water farther down so it was kept at a more pleasant temperature. Once we had the pool, we were surrounded by those who didn’t have one and were looking for one. Safe to say there is a lot of competition and unneeded drama. OH AND BRING A SHOVEL! Most people didn’t want to share :/

is it worth the trip? Yes I do recommend going for the heck of it, but you have been warned.


As touristy as the Coromandel is, its touristy for a reason; I’m so happy I made the road trip.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

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Monthly update: blogging motivation

It has been a while and I didn’t intend for that to happen. I have traveled around New Zealand so much more and have wanted to post about it, but haven’t found the time or motivation. I am blogging for me first and foremost; I guess I needed time to breathe a bit and miss it.

Mid-semester break was not too long ago. Since then, school work has piled up & balancing that with travels has been hectic. I plan to make posts about some of the awesome places I’ve visited: Coromandel Peninsula, Tauranga, Auckland, New Plymouth, Taupo, Te Kuiti, etc. So they are coming don’t worry!!!!! ALSOOO simultaneously popping by new coffee shops in Dunedin and thinking of following up on this post.

Studying abroad comes with a lot of free time, a lot of time to let your mind wander or even get lost. It’s mini trips or walking around new places in town that grounds me. (like I am in New Zealand huh???)

I have to admit the one thing I have been keeping up with for the most part is my twitter (so check that out for more photos & updates).


Sorry this has been more of a ramble, but the plan this week is to get back on the grind.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Hobbiton Set Tour // Matamata, New Zealand

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I decided last minute to take an adventure to the Hobbiton Movie Set, where both Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogy was filmed. I was beyond impressed with the tour of the set & its attention to detail. The movie set is in the middle of no where in the New Zealand countryside; the hills are filled with livestock and imagination.

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The tour itself was roughly two hours, and for what it gave it was pretty reasonable. The movie set is on private land so the only way to see it is by taking a tour. There is a Hobbiton shop and cafe on the outskirts of the private land, but dropping the money for the tour is worth every penny.

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I am not the biggest fan of the movies personally, but I still had a blast. I was ahead a good part of the tour group which never even saw the films (don’t worry i have), so I’ll take it. The scenery is honestly breathtaking in person.

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Everything on the set is real: all the plants, flowers, trees (except for one), etc. The tour is a walking tour around the perimeter of the set.

fun fact: the hobbit holes are scaled differently to give the viewer the idea that the hobbits are so short. Only one is scaled to be life-size at 100%.

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Some of the hobbit holes are fenced off, while others you could walk up to or even walk inside. Although, the indoor scenes were filmed in a studio in Wellington.

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Even after walking by 15-20 hobbit holes, each one is so different. Based on how high up on the hill you are, is how much your hole was worth. Different props are outside each one to specify what kind of hobbit would live there.

fun fact: some of the holes were built only to be featured in a distance in the background for 30 seconds, INSANE!!!

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I was so happy to find out that the time of year I went on a tour, was the perfect time. If you visit during the New Zealand summer, there is little time to stop and take lots of photos due to the influx of people taking the tours.

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I did the tour out of Rotorua. The tour included transportation to and from along with the walking tour. On the bus ride different behind the scene clips were played showcasing what went into making the Hobbit trilogy.

fun fact: the original Lord of the Rings set was taken down after the trilogy, and was made out of synthetic, plastic products. For the Hobbit trilogy, they took two years to rebuild the set on the same farm; that time they built it all to last for years to come, all real wood and products.

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At the end of the tour, is the trip to the Green Dragon. A glass of beer is included (3 different options), or juice, coffee and tea. There is a separate tour that includes an evening buffet inside. I am pretty sure I saw them sell small food items as well.

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The last stop before heading out is the gift shop! I overheard that there is more at this one than the one that is right off the property. Also, there is a gift shop in Rotorua where I caught my tour bus.

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Again, Peter Jackson’s (the director) attention to detail blew my mind.

fun fact: during filming, someone was hired to put laundry up on the lines every morning and take it down at night ONLY so it made footprint indents in the grass.

If you find yourself in the area, or are unsure if you’d enjoy it because you aren’t a hardcore fan, JUST DO IT!!!!!

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Question for you: if given the opportunity to go on the tour would you?

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot

Tunnel Beach – South of Dunedin, New Zealand

What makes this walk great, is you don’t have to dedicate more than a few hours to take in the views. It’s even more perfect if either of these criteria fit you:

  • you are short on time
  • you aren’t a very experienced hiker

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The walk both down and up is steep, so take it at your own pace. It is more common for people to visit Tunnel Beach when its low tide, but don’t neglect going if its high tide. I visited at high tide, and as you can see, it was still 100% spectacular.

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What I really appreciated about the area was:

there wasn’t just one place to take photos, or one view to admire.

Above is one of the views when reaching the bottom of the trail, from there you have a few options.

Man-made Tunnel

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In the 1870s, a man excavated a tunnel to reach a private beach so his family could be secluded in more privacy. (OOOOOOH)!!!

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The beach is filled with boulders and insane looking rocks & cliffs. It makes a lot of sense why someone would go through the trouble to build a tunnel to get here, the serenity.

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Mini Peninsula

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Head out a bit further along to the peninsula and see the waves crashing along the side and circumferential views of the coast.

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*peep the cheeky little seagull who decided to model for me*

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I plan to go back at low tide soon to see how much more beach and rock is exposed. If people are interested I could either update this post or do another post altogether.

I highly recommend making the pit stop if you are in the area. I did get there by car but there is the Dunedin bus system which has a few routes that stop not terribly far from the beach.


Anyone been to New Zealand and have recommendations for me??

Make sure to comment below if you do!!

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

foot