Colville - Whangamata
Sep 21, 2008
|Depart Colville: 206 km (08:15)
Lesson of the Day: it is not possible to cycle on sand!
The bikes took a lot longer than anticipated to put together yesterday, so we only got a short bike ride in after all. Still it was hard work, lots of hills, very windy and riding on gravel is not easy.
The scenery was amazing - lush and green, cattle everywhere – lots of calves, some so tiny they got to wear coats on (really, like pampered dogs), sheep, hundreds of birds.
Occasionally a car, but probably once every 15-20 mins or so.
It was amazing being out of the noisy camper and hearing the sounds of nature too. There is so much peace to hear, mixed in with the sounds of nature, it's really awe inspiring.
The countryside is very hard to explain. It's hilly, sometimes mountainous, but each hill is hilly itself. It's like looking down an Austrian valley in springtime, but seeing the whole valley on one mountain. Kind of a valley of valleys. Then there's forests – of conifers like the alps, of deciduous trees like in England – just come to leaf, and then tropical forests with tree ferns. You feel like you're seeing the best of all the places you've been before.
When we got back from our bike ride yesterday, we made friends with some other people staying at the campsite, who kindly gave us a beer. We made vague plans to get together later for more, but we were so tired, it was all we could do to get dinner (Risotto) and climb into bed – still quite a way before 20.00h.
It was a really cold, clear night and the morning broke with clear blue skies!
We left the site at 08.15am – waving goodbye to our new friends who were soaking up the morning rays – even Ken stopped by to say goodbye! (see pic)
We drove back along the same road to Coromandel, and then took the road to Whitianga, which was fortunately comfortably wide, but amazingly steep and twisty. I was a bit worried that the camper wasn't going to make it up at one point! We were rewarded at the top with spectacular views back down to Coromandel and over the other side towards Whitianga.
We drove on to and through Whitianga and then continued on the main road to Whenuakite, where we turned off towards Hot Water Beach and Hahei. We drove to a fork in the road about 3km from the highway, where we parked up the camper on the side of the road. We took the bikes off the back off the camper, donned our cycling gear and cycled the 3 km to Hot Water Beach in the clear blue skies. It was lovely. The first beach we came to was Surf Beach, a beautiful, wide, sandy and empty beach which, according to the signs, you could actually walk along to Hot Water Beach from. We decided to do this, cycling along the sand the short distance. It took only a few seconds for us to realise that was never going to happen – it is impossible to ride on sand. It was funny trying though! Instead we pushed our bikes – which was exhausting. We went along the beach for about 500m before we realised that the high tide was not going to let us through to Hot Water Beach (no mention of that on the sign) and we had to turn around and go all the way back again, carry our bikes (Nick) over the entrance gate and get back up the steep gravel access road to the main road and then cycle uphill before a lovely long downhill run (oh the way back!) to Hot Water Beach.
This beach is so named because of the thermal springs under the beach and at low tide, if you dig a hole in the sand, it fills with hot water that you can sit in like a bath. Note the reference to low tide! Sadly as low tide was not due for another 5 or so hours, we had to miss this spectacle. We did manage to amuse ourselves for a few minutes however watching some idiot carry his bike onto the beach and try to ride it! How stupid, everyone knows you can't ride on sand :o)
After cycling back up the long slow hill (yes it nearly killed me) and zooming downhill again to the camper, we stopped briefly in the camper for a tuna sandwich to fuel up, and to put on our swim things, and then road off in the other direction the 5km to Hahei. We'd seen a postcard of Hahei in Coramandel and it looked worth a visit. Actually we didn't get quite the view we were hoping for, but Nick managed a quick swim in the sea (which was bloody freezing) and we got some extra cycling miles in.
At just after 15.00 we were on the road again and at about 17.00 drove into Whangamata, a small town with a lovely main street. This will be our base for the night in the Settlers Motor Park.