November 23, 2023 A GORGEous Day (Day 57)

We left our B&B after a quick granola breakfast to head down the east side of the Coromandel peninsula. Our first stop was Hot Water Beach, where at low tide you can feel hot sand under your feet, dig a hole in the sand and let it fill with the hot water that is rising from 2 hot springs. It has become a very popular spot and was already filled with people.

The 2 hot springs are in a tiny area at the end of the rocky point, so everyone was gathered there. It will be inaccessible in and hour when the tide comes in!

Since we had no shovel, no swimsuits and didn’t want to pay the $25 (NZ) parking fee we took a loop road to Hahei Beach nearby. We were rewarded with a beautiful empty beach near Cathedral Cove (which unfortunately is closed due to storm damage from the February cyclone Gabrielle).

A beautiful sandy beach with picturesque islands in the distance.

The roots of this pohutuwaka tree seem to be clutching the sand!

Walking into the little village we spotted this huge fig tree in the yard of “The Lawnmower’s Son Art Space“.We continued south through the beautiful countryside and returned through Karangahake Gorge to explore it more. The gorge is only 20km (about 12.5 miles) long but is full of history and beauty. It was a major gold mining area in the 1870’s. The local Maori (the Hauraki tribes) were opposed to the mining of their lands, but were persuaded through various unscrupulous methods to sign away their mining rights by 1875 and the Ohinemuri field was officially opened to prospectors. The Ohinemuri river cuts through the Karangahake Gorge. Placer mining proved unprofitable, but new methods first in the world to be field tested here, using the Crown Battery to crush the gold ore and the cyanide process to extract the trace gold from the rock, were begun in 1889. History HERE. Lots of infrastructure was built, huge stamp mills, train routes, tunnels, bridges, etc. Most is all gone now and the river is slowly recovering from the devastating pollution. The railway operates a portion of the line as a scenic train. The gorge now has a walkway/bikeway on the rail route through tunnels and along the river. As we approached the historic walkway we detoured slightly for a view.

Owharoa Falls, just a short walk from the walkway/bikeway in the gorge!

We drove to another section of the walkway to try the Rail Tunnel Loop hike.

From the parking area you cross Highway 2 and the Ohinemuri river on the old rail/road trestle and enter the 1km long tunnel! The tiny dot above Robert’s head is the other side of the tunnel!

The tunnel is lighted! Bicycles and a few walkers passed us.

At the other end you emerge and cross under Highway 2 and over the river. A great view of the gorge from the bridge.

A map of the tunnel route. Unfortunately cyclone Gabrielle damaged the trail so the loop walk to and through the other tunnel (with windows overlooking the river) was closed.

We headed home to the Bach and had a great grilled fish dinner and a beautiful sunset!

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