Monday, 19 March 2012

A bit wet

Rain poured down from about midnight, and by morning it had settled back to intermittent heavy showers and misty drizzle. Around 11am we decided to get hats and coats and go out anyway; a motel room and morning TV are not an appealing combination. We drove back down towards Thames for 5-10km, then turned inland on the "309 road", a gravel road that is the funky alternative route to Whitianga. (The Crown Range, not the Cromwell route, in Wanaka terms.)

Anyway, it was a pretty good gravel road, well maintained, and about 10km up we stopped at a sign for the Kauri Grove, a 10 minute walk. The rain had almost stopped completely, so we walked down the track for 5-10 minutes to a viewing platform on the side of a creek gully. Across from us was a virgin forest slope with a variety of trees, including several rimu and eight handsome kauri trees.
Rimu and kauri trees, Waiau valley
After photos and attempts at species identification, we walked back up and drove on another couple of kilometres, then did an even shorter walk into the river valley to see the falls on the Waiau River. (The third Waiau that I know of, there may easily be more.) They were at their best with all the recent rain, so I had fun trying to keep the camera steady to get some slow-shutter photos. As we were getting back into the car, the rain returned; talk about lucky!
Waterfall on the Waiau River
Back to Coromandel and a great pizza at Umu cafe, highly recommended. Then we explored the shops in the main street; rather like Arrowtown, a 50-50 mix of cafe/bars and gift shops held together by a couple of grocery/supermarts, a chemist and a hardware shop. There's only one bank in town, no lawyer or dentist that we could see; a typical tourist town mix. Coromandel must be really quiet in June-July, I bet a lot of locals go on holiday then.

We returned to the town for dinner at The Pepper Tree, a good decision. It's a little more up market than the pubs and cafes in town, but the ambience, food, and service were all excellent, and on a quiet Monday night we had a choice of places to sit. Heather had whitebait fritters (don't know why you'd come up here then order that, but there you are) and I had oven baked snapper on potatoes in a chili-cream sauce. We shared a dessert, had coffee, and waddled out to the car.


Photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregor_ronald/ - check out the recent sets.

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