Archive for the ‘Coromandel’ Category

The peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula has long been a favorite of ours, that’s why we headed north to Tairua, a small town on the Coromandel’s east coast. Despite its popularity as a holiday and weekend hot spot for Aucklanders the peninsula is a very laid back place. Roads are scarce and many are just gravel. The center is all heavily bush clad mountains and the coastline dotted with secluded beaches off the beaten track. Even well known places like Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach have a very special atmosphere especially this time of the year with very few people around. And there is of course trout fishing to be had in several rivers and creeks.

When arriving in Tairua, accommodation was hard to find, affordable places being rare and booked out already. After several fruitless attempts we struck gold and got a private holiday home for ourselves. We felt pretty special having a house with garden, our own driveway and even a garage.

Having been on the Coromandel before we were looking forward to doing some of the many walks and tracks. Broken Hill, an old gold mining place, was one of the first we did. Remnants of the mining can be found everywhere in the area and an old tunnel is part of one of the loop tracks. A torch or headlamp is needed to walk through the 500m long tunnel with its low ceiling and cave wetas and glow worms are common. In the dark the ceiling full of the worms pale blue spotlights looked very much like a beautiful clear night sky with stars. The area is covered in native bush with dense stands of Nikau palms. On the way up to a ridge top we came across many praying mantis waiting in ambush for unsuspicious prey. As we passed one of them just caught a huge wasp which proofed to be too big and strong and was able to wrestle itself free. That’s one of the things we really love when travelling: having time to watch the small dramas and things you might miss when being on a tight itinerary.

Castle Rock is the remnant of an old volcano and provides great views over the peninsula from its twin peaks. They are covered in rich native bush with abundant birdlife. Like an island Castle Rock is surrounded by plantation forest. What a sight when we arrived at the start of the track and all the planted pine trees had gone. One of the workers told us that the area had been clear felled five years ago and replanted with new pine trees. The barren landscape looked completely different than what we were used to and we struggled to find the track up the mountain. We finally made it to the exposed rocky top and enjoyed the great view; strong gales forcing us back down into the shelter of the trees soon after. On the way back we encountered several wood pigeons.

Because of its warm summers with low flows the Coromandel is not exactly a trout fisher’s paradise, but there are a couple of very scenic waterways with Rainbow and Brown Trout present. The majority of trout being small with some bigger fish in large pools. A day to remember was the one spent fishing the beautiful Kauaeranga River near Thames. On first sight there were more rocks in the riverbed than water but a closer look revealed some deep pools and we immediately spotted fish. No time to waste and within minutes we had our gear ready. There was no activity on the surface despite the warm and sunny weather and we choose nymphs rather than dries. Béatrice got a take from a very nice fish in the first pool but pulled the fly right out of its mouth. The day went on with small fish being caught every now and then, but we didn’t manage to get the bigger ones we came across. Late in the afternoon a big trout feeding vigorously on the surface of a deep long pool caught our attention. In the blink of an eye a change was made to a dry fly and a cast fired out, but the fish did not what it was supposed to do and refused our offering after careful examination. Bugger! With several fly boxes full of feathery artwork, we were positive to find a way to deceive the beautiful rainbow. More than an hour and a dozen or so fly changes later we realized, that it was the fish’s day today. We had to quit, the light was fading already and we had to walk back to the car. So, what was it all about? We both had a slight sunburn, our bare legs got badly scratched, we lost several flies thanks to lush greenery and we were pretty exhausted at the end of the day. And we didn’t even get a fish for dinner. Silly for some, happiness for others.

Our visits to beaches and estuaries resulted in some delicious Pippi (mussels) entrées for dinner and we enjoyed collecting other bits and pieces at low tide.

Proposed gold mining is still an issue on the Coromandel. Many of the local people we talked to cannot understand that widely unspoiled parts of the country which are rich in natural features should be destroyed for short term profit as seen in other areas like Reefton. More about the issue.  

While in Tairua we got mail from our friends. What a surprise when we opened the envelope and our passports revealed a 12 months visitor permit. Many thanks to the immigration officer in charge.