Sunday, April 05, 2009

Coromandel Peninsula


Today is the end of daylight savings time in NZ and we awoke early, early. The breakfast room at the Chalet Chevron looks over the Auckland harbor in the distance and we chatted with the other guests. A Brit told us about the terrible economic condition in England where young people had purchased homes at overinflated prices and were now in trouble; sound familiar? A woman from Scotland told us about the festivals in the southwestern villages throughout August that features Scottish Highland dances; this sounds like a great place to visit. Another family from France had 3 very well behaved young children and I was impressed. The homemade yogurt with fresh boysenberries is wonderful and I am inspired to make my own. It is creamy, not sour and has no sugar-so much better than Dannon. There is a variety of packaged loaves of whole grain seeded breads, some of which I would love to bring home.

We are off to the Coromandel Peninsula, east of Auckland. Jutting out into the ocean, this area is heavily forested with ferns, and a variety of trees. It is a bit jungle-like and we set out on a hike along the river. A bit leery, I slowly, without looking down, crossed a suspension bridge hanging over the river with a wire mesh and steel bar open floor that is no more than 6" wide. The rocks were a bit slippery but we walked over an hour over steep terrain.

The 2 lane road to Whangamata, our final destination along the coast, winds treacherously and I think kiwis have no fear, as they drive way to fast. I'm clutching my seat most of the way and breathe a sigh of relief upon arriving. I give a lot of credit to Ray's driving. Not much is open at this hour in this tiny harbor town but we stop at the local fish and chips place and dine on fried snapper and grilled tahiyaki and kamura (sweet potato) fries wrapped in newsprint and newspaper--so fresh and juicy. It is a "takeaway" place but the owner clears a corner for us to eat there. My cheap hotel reservation was hostel like; our bare room consisted of a queen size bed and a chair, with shared bath down the hall and shared kitchen downstairs. All for US$29 a night! Spartan but immaculate.

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