Back in Pukekohe on that Wednesday we went to visit Traillite – Suzi’s builders. Suzi motorhome needs a few things sorted and fixed and we needed to get an idea of when and what. With that done we retreated to the big car park down Manukau Road to regroup. We headed out later in the day in search of the local AA office to get some Auckland maps. This was en exercise in frustration because by the time we found out where it was, it’d closed at 5pm. It seems many Pukekohe shops close at 5pm although those still open to 5.30pm didn’t know why. Funny sort of concept! Defeated, we retreated to the Cosmopolitan Club and our park for the night way down the back.
Thursday’s weather was less wet than Wednesday’s – but still changeable. Welcome to Auckland! In the middle of the day we headed up the motorway to the airport and went looking for somewhere to park Suzi for a couple of hours. All the surrounding streets were marked with yellow no-parking lines on both sides – otherwise people would park there! We noticed a big car-park at the near-by Countdown supermarket and they had a lovely row for motorhomes to park for up to three hours. Nice idea. We took the car the few blocks to the airport and eventually found a park in a car park – $9 per hour!
We met Wyn’s son and his partner off their flight from down south and eventually they headed off with our car to exlore Auckland. Even more eventually we headed south and east, with a stop at Takanini to visit the NZ Motor Caravan Association office in Takanini to collect our mail. While leaving there my cousin from Manurewa spotted us and we had a quick catch-up beside the road. Finally we headed back out onto the motorway which slowed to a crawl for a few kilometers but eventually picked up. We headed east to swoop over the new Kopu bridge and headed onto the Kopu – Hikuwai road across the Coromandel Range. Wyn was driving this bit which meant I got to be the tourist. Neither of us had been over the road although Dad did take us over part of the Thames side back in the 1960s when it was being constructed. It is a spectacular landscape, particularly over the top parts. One rocky mountain/outcrop was so steep it reminded me best of a road cone – albeit a huge forested rocky road cone. Over the other side we headed south to Whangamata where we we parked up at a private POP – very friendly people busy with preparations for the Beach Hop. The Beach Hop is a huge hot-rod event in March each year which swells the population from a few thousand to more than 50,000!
Friday was a stormy sort of day. We were able to move in to the ‘bach’ we’d rented for the weekend early in the day, which was great. A bach (or crib to us from down south) is traditionally a little old seaside hut/home for holiday accommodation. Traditionally the lack of facilities was overlooked because they provided a base for summer holidays. These days many of them are new second homes and lots of them are available to rent. We chose one that was away from the beach with lots of outdoor areas and plenty of room indoors. Which made for a nice relaxing weekend with family and friends to celebrate Wyn’s birthday. Friday was thunderstorms that rattled the windows.
Saturday was sunny – with time to sit around and relax. We even had a swim in the nearby estuary later in the afternoon. Then it was BBQ and candles and cake. Sunday we packed up. It was a great set-up with a huge laundry basket for all the sheets and towels to be left in. And a cleaner due the next day. About then a bloke on a Harley motorbike turned up to take Wyn for a spin. She came back with a big smile and a gleam in her eye. Eventually we headed north to Ha Hei for a late lunch and walked to Cathedral cove after that. It still amazes me how many people make the 40 minute walk there, and with how much stuff. The water wasn’t cold by our southern standards and we both had a swim. Heading back at 6pm there were still lots of people making the walk to the Cove.
We carried on through Whitianga to Simpson’s Beach and parked up for the night in Simpson’s paddock beside the beach. In an act of extraordinary generosity the Simpsons have reserved this beachfront paddock for self-contained motorhomes so that people can still enjoy the coastline without it costing a fortune. It is a magic place.
Monday we enjoyed a walk to the far end of the beach before continuing north and then west to Coromandel town. Where we made a beeline to the fish and chip shop for snapper and chips for late lunch. Yumm. Eventually we headed south to Thames, through Ngarimu Bay where I lived the first 10% of my life. Blink and you’d miss it! We headed around to the other side of the Firth of Thames to the Miranda Holiday Park. After a late tea we enjoyed a soak in their lovely mineral hot pool. And again the next morning there was time for a dip, before Wyn headed off in the car to the airport with her son. It was another nice morning. We’d been lucky with the weather for the weekend and Coromandel had been a lovely place to celebrate Wyn’s birthday.