Coromandel- the Wonderful tale of Angie-Pie and Juicy Lucy
While sitting in Wellington hostel just back from the South Island, I got an email from a friend, Angie, from the first bus to say she had extra time in New Zealand and how about going to Coromandel together. This is what I love about traveling the spontaneous events and adventures that happen.
So we met on the bus to Coromandel and if I am honest I worried, will it be like when we met last time, but oh my goodness, the two hour bus drive we spoke the whole way and because we were sitting in the front of the minibus everyone else could hear our conversation, it wasn’t until we arrived into Whitianga that we noticed no-one else was talking, woops! But clearly I had nothing to worry about, as usual!
When we arrived at the hostel, chatting to everyone, they couldn’t believe we had only known each other for 11 days, travelling is pretty intense friendships develop quickly.
For some reason I started to call Angie, Angie-Pie, I don’t know why, it just seemed to fit, probably because she was calling me Juicy Lucy, so the nicknames were getting round the hostel.
Our minibus to Coromandel was full of people staying at the same hostel so it made it easy to organise a trip to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach (yes, actual HOT water, getting up to 60 degrees in some places.) The most cost effective way, eventually by only 50cent was to hire two cars, which gave us freedom and a change from travelling on a bus.
It was a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in the sky, when we set off for the white sandy beaches and spectacular rock formations. It was great having an instant group of friends. The BBQ/ Wine-a-Q in the sun, the evening before, had helped to cement the new found friendships.
Cathedral Cove really is spectacular but it did remind me of Durdledor on the South Coast of England, which is also stunning. It was so hot we actually had to find some shade because the sand was burning our feet, this is only Spring in New Zealand, I dread to think about how hot I am going to be in Australia, but I don’t have to think about that for a while.
Then we trekked back up the steep slopes to the cars and we are off to Hot Water Beach, it was surreal to be sitting on a beach in a bath of hot water, the idea is that you dig a hole and the water rushes up to the surface. We saw people cooking potatoes and eggs, I hope it was just for experimental purposes and not for actual eating…
I still do not understand why the water is hot because the ocean is still going about its business and I can assure you it is not warm. But it was lovely to be all warm and toasty and then jump into the cold ocean. I actually had more fun jumping the waves than sitting a bath, but I am not a bath person anyway.
After our beach hot tubs, a friend had mentioned about a winery near by, with free tastings, every backpackers dream. So we jumped into the cars, a little wet and sandy and made our merry way to Purangi Winery, oh my, it was fabulous. This wonderfully eccentric man who speaks at a hundred miles an hour in a variety of languages, slipping words in here there and everywhere. It is a family owned business, making kiwi wine, but their most successful is the actual national fruit of New Zealand, Fejoa liquor. Now I must admit, I’ve had fejoa chocolate, from a supermarket in NZ because I’d never heard of it before and I didn’t like it, I couldn’t even finish the bar, that’s how ‘minging’ it was. So I wasn’t exactly looking forward to tasting this liquor or the fruit, but in the words of wonderfully eccentric Danny “no eatty the fruity before drinky drinky the drink” He made us a spritsor with the fejoa liquor and it was delicious, so fresh, fruity and very drinkable. He also made cider with fejoa and apples, yummy. As Angie and I were driving we decided that we should eat pizza, which Danny does also, rather than taste anymore. The 9 of us sitting in the sunny garden drinking free cider/ water and eating yummy pizza, perfect end to a really great day!
The following day Friday, a few of us decided to go out in the free kayaks from the hostel, the beach was on our doorstep. Lovely way to pass some time paddling around and working on the bingo-wings, the best bit was ‘surfing’ into shore on the breaking waves.
After we dried off we went to Coromandel town to ‘Driving Creek Railway’. The owner is a clay artist, Barry Buckleswho bought some land and needed a way to get the clay out of the steep hills, so he started to make by hand his own railway. After a few years the bank said he needed to open up the railway to start paying back his loan. But Barry only ever wanted to have an artist co-op so he concentrates on the art side of life and lets the railway drivers sort the rest. I like this man, even though I’ve never met him, I like his ideology.
The train takes you up into the hill and through decorated tunnels to a viewing platform comically named ‘The Eyefull Tower’.
Following our train ride we went to a park that was all about water ‘The Water Works’, pulling leavers to watch water moving mechanical objects or creating electricity, all the ones that shot out water drenched me, no-one else only me! The best part was the play park, which because it was early evening, the lady had already locked up and gone home, empty of children and available for the big children to play. They had a great flying fox, flying bikes and a giant hamster wheel.
On Saturday we headed out in the car again to our favourite winery, we spent most of the afternoon sampling more freebies, but unfortunately I had offered to drive so I had a few sips and enjoyed the company. Danny was again very friendly, happy to see us and even shut up shop but invited us to stay for more free cider plus the bottle he gave us to take back to the hostel. While we were enjoying the refreshing drinks, we saw a girl cycling up the hill, Angie and I had a girl sharing with us who was cycling to Catherdral Cove and Hot Water Beach, I noticed that it was actually her, she was so tired and so grateful to see us, I think she enjoyed the cider the most. Danny was so kind and put her bike in the back of his car and took her to the ferry landing which meant she only had 10 minutes to cycle on the Whitianga side.
Sadly on Sunday morning everyone was leaving in different directions. Angie-Pie and Juicy Lucy are firm friends and are looking forward to our future reunions in whatever exciting country they may be.
Driving Creek Railway