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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Travel: Exploring New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula

Southern In Law in New Zealand - Exploring the Coromandel Peninsula
See more of our New Zealand Adventures & other travels here!

From the first picture, it looks like this post is going to be one filled with sun, surf and sand... but really, I should probably be calling this "What to do in Coromandel New Zealand on a Rainy Day". 

Why? Because after a few sunny beautiful days, the rain returned for our trip up to the Coromandel Peninsula - but that didn't mean there wasn't fun to be had...

So let me show you what we got up to! >>



We'd driven up to Coromandel (on the North East of New Zealand's North Island) from Whakatane and it took us quite a bit longer than expected due to an accident on a one lane road which left us sitting in traffic for hours with no way out. 

After the longgggggggggg winding drive up (that video only shows the tamer curves because I was too busy trying not to have a heart attack once we reached the coast to film :P) we finally arrived at our next destination.

Indigo Bush Studios Coromandel Town Self Contained Apartment Accommodation Review New Zealand

We were staying at Indigo Bush Studios in Coromandel Town. A self contained, eco-friendly studio apartment for two, designed and owned by local artist Robyn.

Indigo Bush Studios Coromandel Town Self Contained Apartment Accommodation Review New Zealand

We were staying in the Upper Studio with its gorgeous deck and outdoor bath for anyone wanting to soak under the stars. The studio is filled with different art pieces - some created by Robyn and others created by local artists. 

The studio is incredibly eco friendly and a member of the Coromandel Sustainable Tourism Group. As a member of the group, the studios are commited to recycling wherever possible, using rainwater and monitoring waste.

Indigo Bush Studios Coromandel Town Self Contained Apartment Accommodation Review New Zealand

I am a lover of natural light and the studio was teaming with it. As well as a cosy loungeroom, you have a full kitchenette with stovetop, toaster, kettle and all the dishes and cutlery you need to enjoy a meal in, however, if you'd prefer someone else do the cooking there are restaurants just a 2 minute drive (or 10 minute walk) down the road! 

The bed at Indigo was on a raised platform and super cozy. The complete and utter quiet and the sound of native birds in the morning made for one of the best night's sleep. We'd also had the fireplace burning that evening so we drifted off to sleep cozy and warm.

Driving Creek Railway Train Ride Coromandel Town New Zealand North Island Attractions

The good night's sleep was definitely needed as we had a busy couple days ahead of us exploring the Coromandel area. First stop on our list was the Driving Creek Railway which was literally just across the road from where we were staying!

Driving Creek Railway Train Ride Coromandel Town New Zealand North Island Attractions

Driving Creek Railway is New Zealand's narrow gauge mountain railways and it's one of the must-do experiences in the Coromandel area. As well as the railway, the property is home to a working pottery and wildlife sanctuary - all created by local legend Barry Brickell who sadly passed away just a week after we visited at the age of 80. 

Barry was a railway enthusiast and began creating the track in 1975 after realising that a narrow-gauge railway system would give him all-weather access to the natural clay he needed for his pottery and the pine wood needed for his kilns. 

Barry was a school teacher turned potter who used the natural yellow plastic clay (which came from the old volcanic rocks on the property) and other raw materials to make his terracotta pottery gardenwares, tiles and sculptures. 

Driving Creek Railway Train Ride Coromandel Town New Zealand North Island Attractions

It took Barry 15 years to build his railway before it was opened to the public in 1990 and today the one hour returned trip is enjoyed by hundreds of passengers each and every day - rain, hail or shine!

The ride includes a variety of bridges, reversing points, spirals and tunnels, meaning there is plenty to look at and experience during the ride. You'll pass by walls made from wine bottles and hear stories about Barry's time spent building the railway. 

Driving Creek Railway Train Ride Coromandel Town New Zealand North Island Attractions

At the very top of the hill, you'll reach the "Eyefull Tower" which boasts some pretty incredible views. At 165m above sea level you have incredible panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf and all of the surrounding native forest.

By the time we reached the top the weather was caving in (as a serious rainstorm was on its way!) so we didn't get to appreciate the full view, however, what we could see was impressive enough!


And the SIL Videographer (Jesse) managed to capture some footage to share with you all, so here's a quick look at the Driving Creek Railway. 

Driving Creek Railway Train Ride Coromandel Town New Zealand North Island Attractions

After hopping off the train, we explored the property and had a look at the sculpture garden and bush tracks before heading off to escape the rain! The second we got back into our car it bucketed down and didn't let up until the next morning - which was lucky as we had a morning planned outside! 

Hahei Explorer Boat Tour Cathedral Cove Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

The next morning, the sun was miraculously shining and whilst the weather in Coromandel Town wasn't looking promising, we arrived at Hahei Beach to glorious sunshine!

Hahei Explorer Boat Tour Cathedral Cove Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

We were at the beach for a morning boat trip. We were heading out on the Hahei Explorer on a Cathedral Cove Boat Tour.

Hahei Explorer Boat Tour Cathedral Cove Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

Unfortunately whilst the sun was shining, by the time we were ready to hop on the boat it was starting to sprinkle and grey clouds were quickly rolling in - but we still got to see some pretty incredible sights!

Hahei Explorer Boat Tour Cathedral Cove Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

Jesse played the role of videographer once again (whilst I clutched on for dear life as the ride was preeeeeeeeeeeettttyyy bumpy thanks to the choppy waters) so that we could share some videos with you!


The tour starts off at Hahei Beach and takes around an hour, first heading down towards Hot Water Beach to see a range of different sea caves and marine bays and then heading back up to the famous Cathedral Cove which was used in Narnia's Prince Caspian as the set for the ruins of the castle Cair Paravel.

Hahei Explorer Boat Tour Cathedral Cove Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

Luckily, despite the choppy seas, the conditions were right and we got to head into "The Blowhole"; a sea cave that is set below an 80 feet high rock cylinder. Unfortunately pictures and videos don't do this spot justice as it was truly magical. If the sea didn't rise and turn the cave into a pool, I'd be building my house right on that very spot and staring up at the trees all day everyday.

Hahei Explorer Boat Tour Cathedral Cove Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

Once the boat ride was over, it was well and truly raining and we made a mad dash up the beach to our car to shake all the sand off and head somewhere warm and dry. 

Our evening was spent much like the one before; relaxing in our apartment playing board games and watching whatever movies they happened to play on tv. 

The details:
Chattan Farm - sleeps 2 - from $195 per night. Find out more here.
Driving Creek Railway - $35 NZD Adults, $13 NZD Children - Trains depart 4-6 times daily, bookings essential during peak periods.
Hahei Explorer Tour - $85 NZD Adults, $50 NZD Children, departs 10am and 2pm daily (9am and 3pm in Summer), bookings essential.
Car Rental - Go Rentals Compact Auto Toyota Corolla 
Kristy and Jesse explored NZ as guests of Tourism New Zealand.

But tell me, what are your go-to activities on a rainy day? 
And boat ride or train trip; which would you prefer?
On Rainy Days I either like to curl up and have a movie day (or play board games) or head out of the house to somewhere indoors like a museum or shopping centre so I'm still getting out of the house - but not getting wet and miserable :P 

    
   


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