____The flat landscape of countless dairy farms continues throughout the day as I head north-west towards the Firth of Thames and the town of the same name. At Paeora, I stumble upon a Highland Tattoo in full swing; I nearly throw up in my mouth. Thames brings me back to the coast and the area known as the Coromandel Peninsula; the first campsite on the sheltered western shore is Dickson’s. Three kilometres on from town with a Butterfly and Orchid enclosure on site; if you like that’s ort of thing.
____Almost every vehicle passing me, northbound on a Sunday morning, is towing a boat. It’s a narrow, twisting road; right on the shore with just a few metres of rocks and sand shaded; by old native trees clinging to the cliff face. A nice level ride half way to Coromandel Town; before two headlands jutting out to sea force the road inland and up and over a couple of long winding climbs.
____ I camp at the “Tidewater”; a neat and tidy place that takes a scattergun approach to tourists and caters for campervans, tents, has cabins and motel units for rent plus dormitories for backpackers. A fully equipped kitchen and comfortable lounge area persuade me to stay four nights; my longest layover of the tour. I think I deserve a break.
____There is a varied crowd of travellers in the Tidewater every night; always friendly. A run up the coast to Colville Bay and back takes up most of one day; also exploring the town and the various nearby beaches takes another day; the third day was non-stop rain.
____ Out of Coromandel Town and straight up into the hills that are the spine of the peninsula; as difficult ascent as any on the tour. It’s only 41 kilometres to the west coast town of Whitianga but that’s enough for one day. Hot and sunny with a strong sea breeze, Whitianga doesn’t seem to have the same atmosphere as Coromandel; probably trying too hard to be up-market.