Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Coromandel Peninsula (65)

We arrived into Auckland Airport early on Saturday morning and collected our hire car. It was called "El Cheapo" and had over 300,000 miles on the clock. I guess you get what you pay for!

We set off map in hand and Sean's directions to guide us on our way. Not before long though we needed a pit stop for a bite to eat. The choice of cafes was looking pretty grim until we came across a place that didn't look like it was frequented by people with the necessary constitution of an ox! I can only imagine health inspectors do not holiday in the Coromandel as they would surely get depressed en route! The Pukeko Cafe seemed a safe haven and the shear number of people there made one feel better about one's choice. It didn't disappoint and after some toasties and coffee we headed onwards. Here's a few pics of the cafe.

Sometime after the cafe we came across the "JAFFA" bridge. It's an infamous one lane bridge that causes no end of hardship to the denizens of Auckland when they travel en mass to the peninsula around Christmas time. (Christmas time here is the equivalent to June/ July back home when the schools are off.) JAFFA stands for Just Another F%*Ker From Auckland in case you are wondering. We have a similar phrase in Ireland for people from the county of Offaly, BIFFO (Big Ignorant F%*ker From Offaly). Here's a picture of the queue in the middle of winter.

When we finally arrived in Onemana we were struck by the magnificent views as we came into the small village. There are a number of islands along the coast, Slipper and Shoe Islands if memory serves me correctly, which add a great focal point. The striking thing about the beaches along the Coromandel is that the views out to sea have a three dimensional aspect. Or put another way the monotony of the horizontal views of beach- sea- sky are broken quite dramatically by the islands that just seem to jut up out of nowhere. I made the mistake of not taking a pic as we came into Onemana but the link above has a few pics in any event, although none do the view I have described any justice!

After a few light refreshments at the beach house we decided to head onto the neighbouring town of Whangamata and make the most of the day as the forecast was mixed for Sunday. It was late enough by the time we got there and the following pics are therefore taken as the light was beginning to fade although they do give you a better idea of the visual impact the off shore islands have.

While we were there Sean explained how the people pictured below were using a long line to fish. This consists of a long line- no prizes for guessing that one correctly- which has about twenty hooks on it. The long line we came across had a special motorised "torpedo" to bring it a few kilometres out to sea. After about an hour they use another motor, as per the pic below, to reel the line in. Unfortunately for the fishermen it was slim pickings, the only thing caught on this occasion being a lot of sea weed!

After our stroll on the beach we headed back and polished off what must have been a four stone bag of spuds, as only the Irish can, and some of NZ's finest. I refer here to the wine of course. We took it easy the next morning before heading off to our next destination, "Leigh by the Sea." The weather was as forecast but I did manage to take the following pics on our way back along route 25a which was over the scenic mountain range that divides the east and west coasts of the peninsula.

I have been trying for ages to capture the essential difference between the generic Irish and NZ landscapes, without much success and I must admit that I am disappointed with how the pics above turned out. I enlarged the pic below to try and better illustrate what I mean. Apart from the obvious topography of the landscapes which is uniquely different, NZ having a much higher percentage of hilly- very "hobbitesque"- country side compared to the likes of Ireland which is relatively flat comparatively speaking. The other thing that seems to be unique to NZ is, for want of a better description, the tiered affect. You can more or less make out from the the pic below the contours of the hills. I understand it has something to do with the way the hills were grassed/ reclaimed for farming. The other striking thing as a by product of this reclamation is the subsidence or minor landslides you see dotted along the hillsides also. The last difference seems to be the colour of the grass, it has this amazingly vibrant, almost luminous quality to it, that is even more striking due to the dark shadows that the contours throw across the hills. (The pic below doesn't do the colour justice.)

After taking the pics above the rain started to beat down, and we didn't take anymore until we hit Auckland, but more on that in the next post.

We had a great time with Sean, Anna and Niamh(who is nearly two) in the Coromadel and thanks to Niamh we have been singing a "wiggly-woo" ever since!


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