January 1st to 6th 2019
Distance Travelled: 507km
Our New Zealand travellin’ lite adventure starts in Auckland, where we spend two nights and a day right in the middle of the city. We stay in a studio apartment generously made available to us by Andre Hodgskin, where we get incredible views of the Sky Tower from the bedroom window.
This beautiful, elegant space is part of Andre’s creative studios, where he runs Architex, an award winning architecture group in New Zealand. Andre and Marise have been close friends for many years, going back to 1970’s university days in South Africa.
While we are in Auckland, we are fortunate to meet up with an experienced kayaking couple, Sue and Phillip. We meet them for lunch at one of the city’s landmarks, Cornwall Park to talk about the sea kayaking around the North Island. We gladly accept an invitation to return to their home in St Heliers. They are a wealth of knowledge, and spend several hours sharing with us stories and photo albums of their kayaking adventures. We look forward to meeting up with them again; to perhaps share a paddle in one of the pristine areas they know so well.
Prior to us going back to Sue and Phillips’ home, we went for a stroll. The afternoon is clear and sunny but windy as we make our way up to the obelisk on One Tree Hill, a historical landmark symbolised by a bronze Maori warrior statue and the grave of European settler John Logan Campbell. From this viewpoint we enjoy 360 views of the city and her surrounding islands.
From Auckland, our hire car takes us to join family and friends in Flaxmill Bay campsite on the Coromandel Peninsula. Marise has spent some days there already, and the first thing that strikes me is the uncrowded, unspoilt environment. No Gold Coast Christmas/New Year crowds here.
Here we revel in four days of scenic driving, idyllic scenery and generally relaxing in the Flaxmill Bay area. On the Saturday, we join a sea kayak paddle to the exquisite location of Cathedral Cove. This is a 7.6km round trip departing from Hahei Beach. The scenery is stunning to say the least. Sheer white cliffs dipping into the blue of the ocean. It’s Marise’s first paddle in a sea kayak. She handles the choppy sea conditions like a pro.
We laze about the beach for an hour or so; before heading back to the camp site. A detour is made to Cook’s Beach; to stock up on some essentials at a quaint corner store. A store transplanted straight out of the 1970’s.
Parking in front of that store, in one of those timeless moments, we think more about the 1970’s; our youth, the culture from that era. Maybe, just maybe, the beautiful simplicity of this place reminds us that we don’t really change. We’re still a couple of hippies, definitely older, and just that bit more wiser. But it triggered a conversation, albeit brief, between us. It sets the scene some weeks later for the creation of the Mojito Express.
By the time I catch the bus from Whitianga to Auckland we have planned to return to further explore this magic part of the world at the end of this year. To continue the journey of discovery, that has begun on this incredible six days.
Read our feature article on a Coromandel Road Trip here.