Friday, April 6th 2018
My last full day on the Coromandel peninsula. Breakfast again with small talk and another tip for activities for the day. Perfect, because I haven¨t planned anything. The tip includes two spots. Karangahake and Waihi (beach).
The trip is not far. The Karangahake Gorge is only 36 km from Thames. A short car trip. (Link) The area is canyon with a winding highway. The area is known for different hikes and a history of mining (gold). The old railroad tracks are today transformed to a hiking/bicycle path (Hauraki Rail Trail).
First stop for me are the Crown mines. A big parking lot from where you can start several walking tours. My choice today is the window walk through parts of the old gold mine. Starting from the parking lot I cross a rope bridge over the river. On the other side I get a tourist to take a stupid photo of me – the kind were you put your head on the picture of someone else.
I have to follow the footpath along the canyon for about 800 meters before I get to the second rope bridge. I could go longer up the valley but I have to get up the stairs to the old mining tunnel. Flashlight recommended (my mobile phone will have to do it). Half way up the stairs i find the last geocache to get my full 500 points for the challenge.
The tunnel is dark and I have to use my flashlight at the start. There are some openings in the wall where you can get a nice view over the valley below. After some time the eyes get used to the darkness and it is easy to follow the tunnel.
The roof is high enough for me and the only thing to look out for are the railway beams from the trolleys. After 200 meters I exit the tunnel and follow the trolley-railway passing some old mining equipment and signs with information about the mining in the area. Quiet interesting. And some stairs down back towards the parking lot. I didn’t find any gold on the way… bummer.
Leaving for the Owharoa falls 2 km away. This is just another small waterfall, nice, but I have seen better. The waterfall two days ago was much nicer. But no need to stay longer, more to see.
I see a sign at the side of the road where it says “Railway tours”. A historic railway. Something to explore. Parking at the station an checking the timetable. Waikino station with trips to Waihi station. The timetable is a little bit confusing so I ask in the Cafe. Unfortunately the only train for today left two hours ago. More trains operate only on weekends. But I take a small break in the Cafe instead, which is really nice. A fast geocache before leaving.
Next stop is the town of Waihi. The only active mining town. The town center is typical like most other towns I have seen in New Zealand. They have an “Old German bakery” here. I just have to get a Berliner Ballen here. Very good taste and home made.
Waihi beach in the Bay of plenty is my next stop. A lot of beach houses in all price categories here. A long sand beach but no people. A short walk to the water and back to the car. My hosts mentioned Bowentown but have never been there before.
This is a nice place with a beautiful view over the ocean and the bay. Several possibilities to get to the water or to get a scenic view, a free parking lot with overnight camping possibilities and an ice truck with very tasty ice cream.
Get to talk to an old real Kiwi (as he himself stated) with a drone. Fantastic pictures and possibilities. Get a full demonstration and talk about filming/drones. Many friendly and open people in New Zealand. I like that.
Time to go back to Thames. I have to write very few postcards, write my blog and start packing for my trip to Auckland tomorrow. Dinner again at the Turkish restaurant and again tasty food.