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If you’re in the Auck­land area, have a 4WD and a week­end, Richard Soult of new trip-plan­ning web­site 4X4Ex­plorer.co.nz has an idea for you...

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tos by Richard Soult

There are many types of 4WD own­ers. For in­stance, there are those who spend their week­ends up to their necks in mud, re­liant on friends and a winch to com­plete a short bush track, then there is the ma­jor­ity.

How many of us, for in­stance, own a truck and are itch­ing to get out and get it dusty but have to con­sider the kids, the bet­ter half and don’t re­ally want to get the paint scratched. Lots, I sus­pect...

This week­end trip is a real win­ner for ev­ery­one.

When I men­tion the Coro­man­del, most of my friends im­me­di­ately think of Whi­tianga, Pauanui, Tairua, Hot Wa­ter Beach, Cathe­dral Cove and the usual, easily ac­ces­si­ble and far too of­ten crowded des­ti­na­tions that the Coro­man­del has to of­fer.

How­ever, be­ing a Can­ter­bury boy cur­rently based in Auck­land, I’m al­ways look­ing for the great, “end of the road” es­cape. To this end, and with a lit­tle bit of ef­fort, the Coro­man­del has lot’s more to of­fer than most re­alise. There are fan­tas­tic views around ev­ery cor­ner and the feel­ing of re­ally be­ing away from it all.

So, let’s go

Leav­ing Auck­land, head down the coast road past Kawakawa and around the Firth of Thames. Make sure that you ar­rive at Ka­iaua around lunchtime for a good feed of fish and chips at the “world fa­mous in Ka­iaua” fish and chip shop. Even bet­ter, get a take­away and eat un­der the trees over­look­ing the sea and the moun­tains of the Coro­man­del.

A bit fur­ther down the road are the hot springs at Mi­randa. Ba­si­cally a ther­mally heated swim­ming pool, but well worth it, par­tic­u­larly if it’s a cold win­ter’s day.

Fol­low­ing the road around you pass through Thames and an hour later you will be in Coro­man­del town. The first time I vis­ited the township, I felt like I was in a mu­seum. It’s beau­ti­ful with its old town build­ings, a wide range of eater­ies, a su­per­mar­ket and shops. This is your last real civil­i­sa­tion be­fore head­ing north, so stock up.

Last or­ders

About 40 min­utes from Coro­man­del, you reach Colville and the last shop. Time to get any­thing that you’ve for­got­ten. From here, you leave the tar­mac and the gravel starts. Signs tell you to switch your lights

on, even dur­ing day­light hours and to be­ware of blind cor­ners.

You now have a choice. Fletcher Bay or Stony Bay? Whilst the two are only a few kilo­me­tres apart, the ac­cess is com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

To ac­cess Fletcher Bay, the road takes you up the Western side of the penin­sula, fol­low­ing the coast road edged by Po­hutakawa trees, past Port Jack­son to the road end.

The camp­site is small and the war­dens are friendly. If you go there when the fire ban is not in place, you can buy fire­wood on-site and have a fire either in the camp­site or on the beach. The views to Great Bar­rier Is­land are spec­tac­u­lar and make sure that you re­mem­bered the marsh­mal­lows for the camp­fire.

Fan­tas­tic views

The ac­cess to Stony Bay is dif­fer­ent. The gravel road takes you over the hills, wind­ing through na­tive bush, past a kiwi lis­ten­ing post, down into Port Charles and then onto Stony Bay.

Be­fore start­ing the de­scent to Stony Bay, there is a turnoff on your right, which takes you a look out with fan­tas­tic views of Great Bar­rier and the Mer­cury Is­lands. The track looks steep but, as long as it’s dry, you’ll get up and back with­out dif­fi­culty.

Stony Bay is my “go to” week­end place and re­ally of­fers so much for ev­ery­one. If you go early in the year, the res­i­dent ducks will have duck­lings, and be­ing used to campers, they will be all around camp­site and not afraid to let the kids pick them up.

Speak to the camp war­dens and find the friendly eels in the stream. They don’t bite and wel­come vis­i­tors bear­ing nu­tri­tional gifts. They are like dogs and in ex­change for food, love be­ing stroked.

Ven­ture down onto the beach on the left and you will find a nat­u­ral shower where a stream runs over a small bluff. Great af­ter a swim in the sea.

Plenty to ex­plore

If you have a kayak or dinghy, then take it. There are lots of lit­tle bays within the bay and caves that can be ex­plored.

Fish­ing is good at both des­ti­na­tions, so take your beach rod or kayak.

Wher­ever you de­cide to end up, you will have a great time. Al­ways speak to the war­dens to get the lat­est on what there is to do.

On the re­turn jour­ney, take the gravel road through Kennedy Bay, over the top and back down into Coro­man­del town.

If you have time, Route 309 of­fers a wild pig farm, a Kauri stand and fan­tas­tic views.

If you don’t have the time and are trav­el­ling back late in the day, the sun­set views out over the Hau­raki Gulf will take your breath away.

I nor­mally don’t like the jour­ney home af­ter a week­end away, but these views will make you smile and for­get that Mon­day is com­ing.

If you take the coast road back to Auck­land, the fish and chip shop is open in the evening for that last feed.

For more in­for­ma­tion on this route and many more through­out New Zealand, join 4X4Ex­plorer.co.nz

Dawn over Great Bar­rier Is­land from Fletcher Bay.

Sun­set on the way back from a Clas­sic Coro­man­del Week­end.

Port Jack­son.

Feed­ing the eels at Stony Bay.

A short kayak to Shag Bay.

Ar­riv­ing at Stony Bay.

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