After staying on a dairy farm near Tairua we headed south towards Whakatane where our current host was waiting for us. We had 3 whole days for the trip, so plenty of time for sightseeing, hiking and stretching out the legs.
Before leaving the Coromandel Peninsula we really wanted to see the Karangahake Gorge. This winding canyon is a historic gold mining area which has been converted for the public and now offers a selection of nice walkways over bridges and through old railway tunnels. All thanks to the DOC.
Just in case I haven’t mentioned it already: most of the cool outdoor stuff we’ve been posting about is made possible by the Department of Conservation (short: DOC). It manages and maintains national parks and walkways and protects wildlife. Sometimes it seems like the DOC enjoys a better reputation than the actual government. 🙂
We decided to spend the night at Waihi Beach and discovered two more cool things: A beautiful waterfall just down the road from the Gorge and a German bakery in Waihi CBD where we bought a real sourdough bread to fight off homesickness. What a pleasure! Unfortunately good and affordable bread is hard to find in this otherwise so perfect country.
We drove to Tauranga, which is the biggest city in the Bay of Plenty region. As I don’t have anything nice to say about this place, I might as well say nothing. We continued to Mt Maunganui and climbed it for a nice 360°-view of the region. We spend the rest of the day relaxing in our van.
As we were approaching Whakatane quickly we decided to do a day trip to famous Rotorua, situated inland on the shore of the big Rotorua Lake. As far as I know, this is the only city that is built directly on top of earth’s active vents and is therefore packed with some of the world’s most fascinating geothermal phenomena: steaming ponds, bubbling gullies and boiling cracks in pavements can be found all over town. It also features a geyser which we got to see for free from a nice viewpoint.
As there is no freedom camping near Rotorua we relocated to Kawerau for the night and reached our new host at Ohope Beach at the next day.
17/08/2015 – 20/08/2015