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Our road trip from the Bay of Plenty up the Coromandel.

We met a couple in Pukehina who told us about ‘Beach Hop’, a 50s/60s nostalgia event taking place at various places on the Peninsula whilst we would be there, so exciting! We made a decision based on this to stop over in Whangamata, the hub of the action.

Driving through Whitiroa, we stumbled across the warm up event, with vintage cars parked up or driving by. It was such a happy atmosphere!

It felt pretty special as well as exciting to be part of this super cool event! We couldn’t wait to reach Whangamata that evening and see the cars cruising by again!

Whangamata is bound on three sides by estuaries and the ocean, and on the fourth by bush-clad hills. The beach is a 4km-long crescent of sand, curving from the harbour to the estuary. The town has some great places to hang out. It’s a cool town!

The next day, thousands of cars lined up on Williamson Park, ready to convoy further up the coast. The sounds of horns and revved engines made an interesting orchestra!

We were on a high and full of stories about the different cars we’d seen as we carried on up to the coast to Flaxmill Bay, where we camped for a few nights in a beautifully peaceful setting at the foot of lush hills.

Flaxmill Bay is quiet and tranquil, with a few boats dotted offshore.

There’s a beautiful track that took us up to Shakespeare Lookout, where we admired the stunning panoramic views over the whole of Mercury Bay, including Cooks Beach, Buffalo Beach and Lonely Bay.

The Bay is so-named because James Cook observed the transit of Mercury across the sun here on 9 November 1769, and in doing so was able to establish the exact longitude and latitude of the new-found land and thus re-named Mercury Bay and Cooks Beach.

We also tramped to Lonely Bay, which was rather on its own, with only a carpet of shells and driftwood for company.

Using the shells we collected, we made some beautiful artwork back at the campsite!

We had a busy few days here! Our two other day trips took us to:

Cathedral Cove – With the seas too rough for water taxis to run, we tramped over the hilly coastal track (Cathedral Cove Walk) for an hour or so to reach the infamous white cliffs and impressive rock arch that vaults over the beach like the nave of a great cathedral.

Hot Water Beach – This is a bizarre place! Hot springs bubble up beneath the sand and can only be exploited two hours either side of low tide. We took a spade, and joined the masses (the most people we have seen in any one place for a long time!!) to dig our own hot pool next to the breakers. Not everywhere you dig brings up hot water, so we kept trying until someone offered us their hole…result!

Coromandel – we stopped just south of this west coast township to sample the local delicacy: greenshell mussels, the largest mussels we’ve ever eaten! Yum!

Loved the varied landscape and quirky events we experienced on the Coromandel Peninsula; now we’re on a mission to drive up through Northland to the Far North before we say farewell to this wondrous country…