We left for Coromandel with a heavy heart, the New Zealand trip was coming to an end. After a few days on the Coromandel peninsula we’d be making for Auckland and a pessimistic week of car selling. Chin up, we’d heard good things about the beautiful area we were heading towards so stop complaining and make the most of the last few days of official homelessness on the NZ trip.
We were immediately rewarded with a surprising drive through Bethlehem. And boy has Bethlehem changed! No shortage of inns here, or coffee shops, or launderettes, or Subways for that matter. Plus the deliciously named ‘Hell’s Pizza’ and Bethlehem’s Liquor Emporium gave us a nice chuckle. Jesus must be turning in his grave, wherever that may be.
We’d stopped off at Dickey Flats campsite the night before, the busiest yet, and had our usual fare of flavourless mush sprinkled with the saltiest peanuts known to man (we know how to live don’t we?) then up early to hit the road. A quick stop-off and wander around an old abandoned gold mine to see what photos we could find lead us into a network of pitch black tunnels. I loved it. Ruth not so much. After the novelty of scaring the crap out of Ruth with talk of The Descent wore off we made our way back to the car to get moving… not before a quick coffee at the over-priced but charming cafe opposite.
The Coromandel peninsula turned out to be a beauty. As we’d been told it was quite similar in attitude to Golden Bay, the ‘Art Trail’ leaflet we picked up at the ‘i site’ became our guide book working our way from studio to studio, gallery to gallery. We fell in love with a painting by Barbara von Seida, almost handing over £900 right then and there, chatted with a guy who made delicate ceramics and wandered around a potter’s studio which extended right into the beautiful garden. We could live like this, we decided. We’ll open our house/studio/homestay/hippy retreat as soon as we find that pot of gold on our travels.
A bonus that came from our decision to stay at the cheapest campsite in town, and would once again reinforce our belief that travelling is as much if not more about who you meet rather than what you see, was the family who gave away their hard earned catch of the day. Consecutively they gave us beautiful (and I mean that in the dribbliest sense of the word) freshly caught smoked fish. It was amazing. We joined them and a handful of French folk they’d rounded up and plied with the same treats and drank the nights away. You have to savour moments like this, and we did.
As usual, click the images to enlarge them.