Hot Water Beach
Were Captain Cook to see the beach that bears his name today, he would certainly not want to anchor here. Cooks Beach is nothing more than a collection of summer houses. For this reason, it’s best to drive on to the small town of Hahei, where a splendid, protected sandy beach and one of the best hotels for miles around is located. If you decide to spend the night at the Hay-Lyn Park Lodge Hotel, you can go on two trips the next morning, both of which have to be taken while the tide is out. One of the tours is a 40-minute hiking tour to Cathedral Cave, a magnificent beach, concealed by towering cliffs formed by waves, wind and weather. It’s so beautiful here that visitors have been known to make a daytrip out of a short visit. The other tour to the equally beautiful Hot Water Beach has to be postponed until the following day. Nature has more surprises in store for you here, some accessible with a shovel. The waters from underground thermal springs flow just below the sandy surface. If you dig a hole into the sand during low tide, you can enjoy a relaxing bath. But be careful – sometimes the water is boiling.
Before going on the journey back south, you should stop at the Purangi Winery. It lies about 500 meters beyond the fork to Hahei Beach on Cook Beach Road, on the way to the ferry landing. Bill, Mike, Bob, Anneka and Debby produce ten different types of wine in their winery, with fruit grown in their own organic orchards, of course. The food served at the winery is also very good: Sea-food cocktail with fresh homemade bread, followed by a lemon gin..
The mining opponents’ slogan is “Coromandel – too precious to mine.” After relaxing on the scenic peninsula’s silver beaches, taking a dip in its waters and enjoying a glass of wine on the shady Purangi Winery veranda, anyone will find it easy to identify with this slogan.
Our journey continues southward on Highway 25. The Twin Kauri Scenic Reserve is just outside the town of Tairua. A special sight here is the twin kauri trees, which are about 100 years old. The walk around the reserve takes 20 minutes. These trees are the last of Coromandel’s vast kauri forests, which disappeared into the insatiable jaws of Tairua’s sawmills.
Pauanui lies on the opposite side of the harbor, and is only accessible from Hikuai. Apart from its beautiful beach and the luxurious Puka Park Lodge, Pauanui also has another attraction in Doug Johansen, the slightly unusual tour operator. He likes to think of himself as Kiwi Dundee, and operates a large number of tours that are a mixture of nature study and adventurous survival training.
When it’s time to leave Coromandel, pick up Highway 2 once more at the town of Waihi, which became famous and infamous because of its gold mines. You will reach Tauranga, situated on the Bay of Plenty, after a 62-kilometer drive along the extensive Tauranga harbor.
The Bay of Plenty was also given its name by Captain Cook – because of the warm and generous welcome given by the Maori when he first landed here. However, he wasn’t given this kind of welcome when he landed near present Gisborne some time earlier, on October 9, 1769. The Maori showed him no generosity, and Cook responded by naming it the Bay of Poverty. Even explorers can be spiteful for posterity.