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The Coromandel Peninsula

The Pinnacles

After a rollercoaster of a bus ride from Auckland to Thames, I managed to settle into the Sunkist hostel near the seashore. The building is the oldest in Thames, and had a lot of charm. It was eco-friendly too with buckets for kitchen scraps to feed to the pigs, recycling bins, electricity and water saving features, and free-range eggs for sale.

Me in an old Kauri tree

Thames is the gateway to the Pinnacles, which is the mountain range that runs along the middle of the Coromandel Peninsula – obviously I was there for the hiking. I met another Canadian girl and I guy from Germany at the hostel, and we all headed up to the Pinnacles together for a day hike.

GAH! That's steep...

There were plenty of swing bridges, ladders, and steep climbs, but the view from the top was quite spectacular.

View from the top of the Pinnacles

Whitianga

While I was wrapping up at Rainbow Valley Farm, I got an email from a couple living in Whitianga that I had contacted about WWOOFing. They needed help in the garden on their organic cattle ranch. Whitianga (Fit-EEE-anga) is on the other side of the peninsula from Thames. The drive around was beautiful, but a little scary at times. Again, the roads were narrow, windy, and right along the seashore.

View of the ranch from the kitchen window - fruit orchard, and pasture. If you look closely, squint your eyes, and shake your head a little you can see some sheep in the shade under the tree in the field. Everything is a bit dry!

I couldn’t have felt more at home at Jaqui & Rod’s place; they were incredible hosts, and I hope that they come visit Vancouver someday. I spent most of my time at their place working in the garden, but I also got a chance to feed the pigs and chooks, and pick plums in the orchard. January here is like July at home in the garden, so the zucchinis were growing like crazy! Jaqui and I made a really delicious courgette chutney that I can’t wait to make again this summer! Yummy!

A garden gnome must have taken this picture when I wasn't looking.

One of the reasons I was so excited to spend some time in Whitianga was because it is quite close to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach – two places I wanted to visit. I worked ‘double time’ in the garden for a day, so I could have the next day off to explore the area and check out the beach. Luckily they had an extra bicycle that I could use for the day to get around.

I took the Ferry from Whitianga across the harbour ... to get to the other side. A little bit of a short cut on the way to Cathedral Cove.

Emily ❤ Fern Trees! This wa along the path to Cathedral Cove - so lovely and cool to walk in.

The Beach at Cathedral Cove - a bit busy for my taste, but the turquoise water and white sand were spectacular!

The namesake - I think that the Cathedral Cove we visited in the Catlins on the South Island was more spectacular, but this is still a great example of erosion forces at work! Eventually this tunnel will collapse, and turn into a pillar.

Stingray Bay - wordless.

Chaos at Hot Water Beach. These guys must have been at work for a while to build a pool like that!

How is hot water beach hot? There are two springs, Maori and Orua, under the beach heated by hot volcanic intrusions from 5-9million years ago. Release of carbon dioxide causes the springs to bubble up through fractures in the underlying rock. If you dig a hole deep enough at low tide, you can reach this hot water (60-65C), and have a lovely soak.

River swimming hole off HWY 309

After about 60Km of riding, I had to stop at the river for a swim on the way home! Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach were both cool, but I think my favourite swim spot was the river of HWY 309. The water was clear and refreshing, and it was nice to relax in the water without being pushed around in the big surf. People say there are killer eels that lurk in the depths of the swimming hole – I wouldn’t be surprised if there are, but I luckily didn’t have an encounter.

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Manaia Farm Girls

A few of Ali's cows
A few of Ali’s cows

Auckland to Taranaki

Our Auckland rendezvous was successful and after a good catch up on all the latest gossip, Miranda and I caught a few winks before our early departure. I tried my hardest to figure out how the heck to get to Manaia from Auckland by bus, but it seems that the rural bus service is only once a week! So, we took the bus to New Plymouth and Ali was kind enough to come pick us up from there.

The bus ride from Auckland to New Plymouth is a curvy one!  The first bit was the usual small towns and pasture, but then we got into a beautiful native forest area that took us up over a mountain and down onto the west coast. It was a grey and rainy day, but it added to the rugged beauty of the coastline. Our bus driver was a character. He shared a proverb with us about the Taranaki region.:

“If you can see the mountain then it is going to rain, and if you cannot see the mountain then it is raining”

We couldn’t see the mountain.

A Day on the Farm

Putting on our blue coveralls and gum boots, we set out for the farm with Ali – Miranda on the front of the four wheeler, and me and the dogs on the back.

A ride on the four wheeler

A ride on the four wheeler

Cows cows everywhere!  (I like cows, so this was a very exciting moment!)

Cow! ... and coveralls

Cow! ... and coveralls

It’s calving season, and just as we pulled up we spotted a new born! Still black and icky, we watched him take his first wobbly steps towards his mama. We’ve since named this little guy Boots, and he’s doing very well.

Baby Boots! He's all black except for his little white legs.

Baby Boots! He's all black except for his little white legs.

Boots' first steps!

Boots' first steps!

After seeing this little guy we were primed and ready for more calf action. Off we go then – to the calf shed!

Fake feeding - these little guys were ready for a drink, and mis took my finger for a teat.

Fake feeding - these little guys were ready for a drink, and mis took my finger for a teat.

The calveteria

The calfeteria

Now it’s time to get to work! Milking shed ho!

First the cows are rounded up from the field and given a little snack in this shed. Then you have to do a little dance to get them out of the shed and into the milking shed.

First the cows are rounded up from the field and given a little snack in this shed. Then you have to do a little dance to get them out of the shed and into the milking shed.

Round and round the cows go! Once they get to the end of the circle, the milking cups automatically come off and then it's my turn to spray their teats to keep them moisturized.

Round and round the cows go! Once they get to the end of the circle, the milking cups automatically come off and then it's my turn to spray their teats to keep them moisturized.

Mnt Taranaki

Mnt Taranaki or Mnt Egmont is a stunning volcano at the centre of the province. From Ali’s farm the land is flat as far as you can see in any direction, except for Mnt Taranaki…

Mnt Taranaki

Mnt Taranaki

We’ve been around the mountain on a day trip out to New Plymouth, and up the mountain to the look out point. We’re hoping to come back in the summer time and do the hike up to the summit once the snow has melted.

Mnt T summit

Mnt T summit

Although Mnt Taranaki hasn’t erupted in 400 years, it is only dormant and not extinct. While we were in New Plymouth we visited a museum that had great diagrams of Mnt Taranaki’s explosions over time, and the resulting creation of the Taranaki region.

Mir, Ali, and Me at the view point on Mnt Taranaki

Mir, Ali, and Me at the view point on Mnt Taranaki

Fun on the Farm

From left to right - Keith, Me, and Gary

From left to right - Keith, Me, and Gary

Our little guest house - luxery!

Our little guest house - luxery!

My favourite Red Tractor

My favourite Red Tractor

Me with Boots - he's a few days old here

Me with Boots - he's a few days old here

Miranda and Boots

Miranda and Boots

A silly moment

A silly moment

Who's silly now!

Who's silly now!

There we go - all smiles!

There we go - all smiles!

Meet Munchin, the family pig! She's adorable and very talkative

Meet Munchin, the family pig! She's adorable and very talkative

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