When we told friends we were going to New Zealand, most people’s first reaction was, “Oh South Island? It’s super fun there!” We’d say no, just the North Island this time, and they’d invariably follow up with, “but we love the South Island!”
We do too, but since we’d already circumnavigated most of the South Island on a previous trip, we thought we’d explore the north eastern coastline of the North Island. So far, we had had a blast. Our kayak-camping trip in the Bay of Islands was a tease; we only wished we had more time to paddle around every little nook and cranny, and snorkel every cove.
Now, we’d made our way down and around Auckland to Coromandel. It was a surprisingly windy drive to the peninsula, through verdant forests of tall Kauri pine trees and bushes of silver ferns, before the road opened up to farm fields and paddocks of cows.
It’s a gorgeous place. We spent a leisurely two days wandering along the coastline, catching the sunrise over the iconic Cathedral Cove, enjoying a refreshing dip in the clear cool waters at Hahei Beach, and snorkeling at Gemstone Bay where we spotted another large black sting ray half hidden behind some sea grass.
We also signed up for a kayaking tour where we had a different vantage point of Cathedral Cove, Stingray Beach, and Gemstone Bay (I couldn’t find freedom rentals unfortunately; bleah).
Another highlight: joining the crowds over at Hot Water Beach to dig our own shallow pool in the sand at low tide, where underground hot springs by the beach help fill our makeshift spa with ever warm water. That was a pretty neat experience, and when we got a little too hot, we cooled off in the brisk surf.