our destination was actually inspired by the intro scene to the movie “the chronicles of narnia: prince caspian”. ever since i watched the massive sea stack, the emerald beach, the white sands and its unique archway being used as a location for the movie, i wanted to be there. that fine day, i went to say hello to the coromandel.
i have to admit, of all the places in the itineraries for us to visit, our trip that day was the least studied one. i planned on driving by following road signs since i vaguely knew the directions. kak maz decision to accompany us was a blessed one since i could mentally rest a little bit and just followed their honda stream instead. we left the house at 9:30 am right after we had our breakfast. aslam didn’t join us because he couldn’t skip class that day but islah and elias were more than happy to join us since they were given permission by their parents.
▼ no. 3, carrington ave., hamilton – morning of day 4
▼ the backyard
we took the sh26 from hamilton through the farmlands which consisted of grassy meadows separated by fences, hedges and poplars. the sky was really fine and clear, quite a rare climate for the north island especially in winter, we passed through the town of morrinsville and drove alongside the kaimai range. our convoy finally arrived at the coromandel region by crossing waihou river (formerly known as thames river) over kopu bridge, the longest single lane bridge in the country at 463 m and the only swing bridge on a state highway left in new zealand. from then on, we had to cross the coromandel range through coromandel forest park to the east side of the coromandel peninsula using sh26a. we saw the famous kauri trees along the way. we turned north along sh25 until there was a road sign guiding us to the town of hahei and cathedral cove nearby. after driving more than 160 km, we reached the carpark at 12:00 pm.
all of us were amazed by the grand views of the sea and dozens of small uninhabited offshore islands that litter the bay from the lookout point near the carpark, it was also our first glimpse of the pacific ocean! we had our lunch of fried rice with chicken there, prepared by kak maz that morning. afterwards we began our arduous task of trampling the trail, about 2 km from the carpark towards cathedral cove. i was so proud of alif and yomi as they managed to walk the whole trail without our help except the last stretch with steep wooden steps to descend from the cliff to the beach. along the way, in the midst of the richness of nature, we met other hikers, grazing cattles with pastures, pine forest, tree ferns, native bushes and mushrooms. en route, we passed different trails to access gemstone bay and stingray bay but our main prize was the cove. it took us nearly an hour on foot to see the famous one.
▼ the carpark
▼ having lunch at the lookout point near carpark
▼▼ alif, yomi and zack
▼ an uninvited red-billed gull looking for free lunch
▼ hahei town and beach 2 km away
◄ entrance to the track
▼ the start of the track just below the lookout point
▼ elias leading the way
▼ zack and aina anchoring the back
▼ elias, islah and diman with alif
the track descended to mare’s leg cove where the beach was short but mind bogglingly beautiful with a small sea stack called “little rock” right in the centre of the sea view. there‘s a small waterfall falling off the cliff into the sea at the far end while the other end lies the famous cathedral archway under the protruding cliff linking mare’s leg cove to cathedral cove with the famous massive sea stack called “te hoho” on the other side at a distance. zack, alif, yomi and the rests went feet dipping at the beach, not just any beach but an ocean to boot, and in winter, while i strolled around taking photos. there were many hikers sitting in a line on the beach, and a single shirtless guy was swimming in the ocean! alif also left his territorial mark by peeing on the pacific. kak maz sat watching (and marvelling) at the stunning views in front of her on a small opening on the rocky cliff, joined later by islah, elias and aina.
▼ the cathedral archway with te hoho at the far end
▼ little rock at mare’s leg cove with a lone swimmer
▼ fellow hikers feasting on the scenery
▼ small waterfall
▼ kak maz and islah
▼ dipping in the pacific
sadly, a thigh-high rope fence was erected at the rock arch entrance to block and prohibit visitors from crossing under with signs saying access is closed due to high risks of rock fall in the archway. being a law abiding traveller, i regrettably gave up the idea until diman told me that there were footprints all over the sand under the archway. since everybody else was doing it, so why couldn’t we? we mutually agreed to dash through it and hurriedly shuffled through the walkway, albeit with a bit of heart palpitations. what we found on the other side was a monster (or angelic) of a view of the true cathedral cove. there was no other human in sight. out of breath, we walked slowly towards te hoho and stood on the boulders facing the limestone pinnacle and lighted our rolled tobaccos. i felt extraordinarily fulfilled as i realized that i was sitting right in front of the famous landmark. 10 minutes later when we walked back towards the archway to rejoin the others, the tide had slightly risen and we had to wait between gentle waves to race through it or else our shoes would be soaked with cold sea water.
▼ zack standing near the archway
▼ te hoho in all its glory at cathedral cove
▼ the view of the archway from cathedral cove
▼ running towards mare’s leg cove
about 30 minutes later, all of us bidded adieu to the coves and began ascending the wooden stairs up the cliff and we still had to work our way through the (1 hour) coastline trail back to our cars. it was almost 2:30 pm and that was also the moment where alif and yomi gave up their strength to walk anymore. i had to put alif in sitting position on my shoulder while yomi sat on zack’s and we had to climb up and down the trail. we had to stop a few times to catch our breath, we switched our child loads a few times too. my sweater was wet with sweat, in winter! after an hour, i was inches away from a total collapse when islah and elias (both were in front of us) shouted that they could see the lookout point. i was overjoyed with relief at the news and just before we reached the carpark, there’s a grassy pasture slope below it overlooking the sea and all of us agreed to lie there, breathing in and out slowly to restore our strengths as well as to enjoy and admire the scenic view for one last time.
▼ walking back towards carpark
▼ stopping for a breather
▼ passing out on the grassy slope near carpark
▼ now that everybody’s ok, time to travel home
i drank, smoked and ate some chips, got inside the car with the others, turned my tired mind into auto mode and dutifully followed diman (who in turn dutifully followed the gps directions) in front of us, leaving the place behind and bringing the memories with us.
▼ ancient but loyal companion #2
we stopped at a fuel station in tairua to refuel, then continued our journey home to hamilton through the night via te aroha and paeroa, made famous by their local drink, l&p (lemon & paeroa) with a funny slogan, “world famous in new zealand”, which i think tasted not unlike a kickapoo. we arrived home safely around 7:45 pm. we travelled 325 km that day. thus finished our tour of the coromandel peninsula’s lower half.
that night, with the temperature hovered just above 8°c, i went to the backyard with diman for a smoke, and he introduced me to the milky way. it was a hazy glow of little stars grouped closely together to make a band across the sky. i saw it with my naked eyes and i almost cried (in my heart) with bliss. aina was right.
next» soul searching road trip oznz – day 5 (10/06/2010)