February 27, 2015 Thames, New Zealand

We left Auckland and headed toward the town of Thames ( pronounced Tims).  Along the way we drove to the Coromandel Peninsula.  This stretch of scenic highway is considered one of the best on the North Island.  The road hugs the coast of the Firth of Thames (a bay) and has narrow roads and several one lane bridges with signs telling you which side has to “give away” (yield).  We passed through one particularly harrowing stretch of road that was extremely narrow and we wondered what would have happened if we had passed one of the many large trucks traveling the road.
We stopped along the way at a rest/camping area and talked awhile with a New Zealand couple camping there in their camper van.  They owned their camper van but this also IMG_3495IMG_3499seems like a popular way for tourists to travel in New Zealand since they are readily available for rent.  New Zealand is very friendly to campers and there are several options available with campgrounds as well as places you can camp for free for two nights. This couple was staying in a free two night area near the water where they could swim and fish.  We seriously considered this option when planning our trip but decided to go the rental car/hotel route.IMG_3498
We arrived in Thames for a two night stay.  We usually do not do bread and breakfast places, but this place had excellent ratings and private chalets.  We were greeted warmly by the owner and given homemade shortbread cookies and a bottle of liqueur.  We loved our little chalet which was bigger than a hotel room and had a small fridge, microwave and hot plate/convection oven.  We had access to the hot tub steps away from our chalet and the use of their large barbecue grill.  We certainly enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub and watching the sun set over the Firth of Thames.
The new day we drove to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.  Cathedral Cove is known as the most beautiful small beach on the North Island.  We were lucky to find a IMG_3508parking spot in their very small lot and walked around admiring the beautiful views.  It is possible to hike from the parking lot down a very long steep path to the beach, but on this hot day we decided to pass on the hike and admire the beauty from afar.
Our next stop was Hot Water Beach.  This is one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions.  During low tide scalding hot water pulses out of the sand.  You can rent a shovel and dig yourself a spot to make your own spa pool.  All this must be done withinIMG_3517IMG_3516IMG_3514 two hours of low tide and since low tide was 9AM and 9 PM we missed it.  Somehow knowing we had a nice clean hot tub waiting for us at the chalet made the thought of wallowing in hot mud less attractive anyway.  IMG_3519IMG_3521IMG_3502
Some observations:
A car park is a parking lot.
The New Zealand sun is very intense and hard on fair skin.  It is possible to get a sunburn through the car window and 50 SPF doesn’t help much.
The New Zealand currency is much like the U.S. dollar in some ways.  They have coins for one and two dollars instead of paper.  The smallest coin they have is 10 cents so if you purchase something and need change less than ten cents they keep the difference.  Hey!  That adds up!
The days here are 13 hours long.
Bill says the coffee is not very strong.
Living out of a suitcase and moving every two or three days has its challenges.  If I had 10 cents for every time we said “I can’t find” or “do you know where….”, I would have enough money to buy me one of those $4 cans of Diet Coke!
A note on immigration.  The government here makes it very hard to immigrate to New Zealand.  Before we boarded the plane the airlines made it clear to everyone boarding the plane that you better have proof of a return ticket when you got to Customs in New Zealand.  When we arrived they did ask us how long we were staying and we signed a customs form declaring that to be true.  They did not ask us for any proof.

1 thought on “February 27, 2015 Thames, New Zealand

  1. karnold249

    I loved New Zealand, as I am sure your are coming to as well. I couldn’t get over th vibrant greens and blues, but we went in their Spring. GE had posted somewhere there for about five years and he tried to immigrate to no avail. Have fun you two.

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