After finishing kiwi picking season, with rewarding "End of the season" barbecue party, our time in Te Puke came to an end. We said Goodbye to our rented room and headed North. We had to be in Auckland at the end of July so we could do house sitting for our friends while they went on vacation. But before we returned to Auckland once again, we had to do some must-dos on our way.
We wanted to see Coromandel (not only the city, but most of the Coromandel Peninsula).
We made a short stop in Tauranga to check out some wall graffiti. And also Aldis bought a guitar (he was missing his guitar from back home so much, so he ended up getting one here).
Next stop was 153 meters high Wairere Falls. It is the highest waterfall in New Zealand's North Island, so it easily made it to our to do list. Day was gloomy, but the waterfall - majestic. The hike wasn't so easy, so we didn't end up to the top of the waterfall (also because I didn't felt that good). But the view point was good enough to enjoy the waterfall from a distance.
We had a plan to go to Karangahake Gorge which Historic Walkway follows the old railway line between Paeroa and Waihi. It is a nice hike with impressive remains from the gold mining. As the weather was getting worse and we had to find a place to stay that night we decided to skip that and return for hike another time. So we ended up in Tairua. Small town with few hotels and no decent grocery store. That was our mistake to assume that it will be possible to find a dinner and also a breakfast for the next day here. We passed so many grocery stores on our way here, but it never crossed our mind that we should do our shopping before arrival.
Lesson learned! We stayed in Tairua Beach House Backpackers hostel which is a lovely Italian family-owned business. It was crazy wind during the night but we still decided to sleep in our car (cheap and also private). Although it is winter here, the night was perfect for that. And also we had two sleeping bags... each!
Next day was very rainy and grey. Our plan was to see must visit places like - Hot Water beach and Cathedral Cove. The forecast promised a lot of sun in the next day, so we moved that plan for later. This day, although rainy, turned out to be nice. We drive a crazy windy road to Coromandel city (hoping that maybe West coast will be less rainy).
We used the time between each rainfall to explore the little city and had a lovely meal at Success Caffe (really really nice and cozy place with delicious food).
We came to the city using one of the two possible roads New Zealand State Highway 25, but decided to go back to The East coast using the other one. Turned out it was shorter (as our GPS promised) but also most of the times very very narrow and gravel.The 309 Road was unexpectedly dangerous, but we were absolutely amazed by it. On our way we saw abandoned cars and houses in the middle of nowhere (totally reminded me of the movie Wrong Turn if you know what I mean).
We noticed sign Pigs Crossing and suddenly there was all those cite pigs around our car, in the field, next to the road living their best free life. It was a pleasant surprise we were not expecting. No fences just a lot of abandoned cars and sign - Do not feed the pigs! It was magical, weird and surprising at the same time.
The weirdest was that we didn't know that there is a place like this. And when I google it later turned out it is called Stuart and the Pigs and it is even on TripAdvisor with more than 300 reviews. Famous throughout the region, Stu lives 3km along the 309 Road. His place is home to over 100 wild pigs, peacocks and an assortment of other animals. So definitely put this in your bucket list! We are so glad we went used this road and accidentally found this place.
Another nice stop on this road was Waiau Waterfall.
After that, we went to Whitianga to find some dinner. Google showed that this city even has a grocery store and some restaurants and cafes. As the sky cleared out, we decided to take a nice walk through the city. An attractive township with a deep-water harbor. The city homepage describes it as a place where you can do a little or a lot - the pace of life can be as busy or as calm as you choose. It is the New Zealand North Island summer getaway spot, but even now in winter, there were people around walking their dogs and doing their chores.
We decided to spend our night very close to The Hot Water Beach in Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park. We knew that the next day will be gorgeous and sunny and we didn't want to lose any time in the morning.