While we were in Hamilton, we made the executive decision to spend our last few days in New Zealand on the Coramandel Peninsula. There were a myriad of places we would have liked to see including the magnetic sand beach outside of Auckland, and the Bay of Islands. But the beach was calling us and we wanted to end our trip on a relaxing note, so we found a condo on the beach in Paunui and had no regrets. Plus, the Cathedral Cove was one of the top items on my list, so I’m very glad we got to fit it in.
Lesson learned: Keep travel plans somewhat flexible!
The drive to Pauanui was about 3 hours. After doing all the driving we had done, 3 hours felt like nothing. The drive was beautiful, especially going through the pass into Coromandel.
Lesson learned: There is never enough time to see everything on your list. Prioritize and enjoy what you do get to see.
Ocean Breeze Resort
This is definitely not a sponsored post (although how cool would that be to someday get paid to travel?), but I cannot say enough good things about the Ocean Breeze Resort we stayed at. First of all, the managers were just about the nicest people ever. Upon arrival, they brought boxes of toys, games, book, and movies for our children. They also let us use the pool towels free of charge.
Our room was immaculate and spacious. We had brought most of our food from Hamilton (since they had warned us that the grocery stores in Paunaui was limited and expensive), so we were able to cook in the kitchen and eat around a large dining table. Every room has a private patio that faces the pool. We were right across the street from the beach.
They would check in on us often to see if we needed anything. At one point, the internet was super slow, so Brandon was able to help them fix it. Because of that, on our last morning, Peter and his wife brought us a giant breakfast spread of heart waffles, cream, berries, toast, fruit, granola, and milk. That breakfast was definitely the best breakfast we ate on our entire trip.
I took the beach cruiser out for a spin one afternoon to explore the town. And we practically had the place to ourselves all week because of the off-season.
Lesson learned: If possible, splurge on a place with laundry facilities at the end of a trip. We came home with clean clothes!
Hot Water Beach
The Hot Water Beach was about an hour from our condo. And is just about the coolest place. The beach is situated over a geothermal hot spots, so at low rise, you can dig your own hot tub and relax on the beach. (Well, as much “relaxing” is possible with 3 littles around.)
Isn’t this spectacular?
Our hotel had shovels and buckets for us to use, but it was a lot of work. Brandon dug, only to have cold water fill up our hot tub. Apparently you have to find a good spot with warm water. But then we got lucky and found an abandoned hot tub which was full of warm water. Heavenly!
When it would get too hot, we’d grab buckets from the ocean to cool us off. Our children loved this place!
The view from our hot tub: Not bad, not bad.
We had a rainy day intermission, which was actually kind of nice to truly relax for a day. Later that evening, we took a walk on the beach. It was no warm Australia, white sand beach, but a beach nonetheless. Brandon and I talked and walked while Blake and Evelyn played with sticks and sands and Oliver tried to swim.
As the sun was setting and the ocean waves crashed on the shore, I couldn’t help but feel all the emotions. Our grand adventure was ending and it was grander than I ever though possible. What an experience we had.
But before I get all mushy, we had one more day of adventure. And that was epic.
We woke up on our last morning to sunshine. After our warm breakfast from the hosts, we drove back up to Cathedral Cove. Speaking of our hosts again, they let us check out at 5:00 pm that night so we could go to the cove and have time to come back and shower and do laundry. So, so nice!
Just another green, rolling hill. Parking was a joke, but super Brandon parked down the hill a ways and ran back up to the trailhead. We started off on our hike and knew we were in for a treat when we beheld this:
The hike was about an hour, but gorgeous and we only had a few tears along the way. And then we reached Cathedral Cove, which was amazing. See for yourself:
We went through the cove, trudged through water and camped out on a warm, soft sand beach. Heaven!
They loved this little stream from the waterfall.
One last swim in the pool before leaving for the airport!
My favorite 3 amigos! I’m so glad we got to end our trip on a great, sunshiney note.
After doing laundry, packing up, we drove to the Auckland airport (with a stop at Wendy’s for dinner and a grocery store for Tim-Tams) before we flew home. More thoughts to come!