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Waihi Hahei

26th February 2012

Soaking up the Coromandel Eastern Coast with the Jet-Setters

All Pauanui Streets Are Dual Carriageway Like The One on the Left - Anything Goes For Houses
    The skies were clear through the night, affording superb views of the Milky Way. That was little comfort as the temperature in my wagon plummeted.
    The upside was a brilliant blue sky in the morning. I took myself to the tip of Pauanui, accompanied by convoys of 4WD vehicles which were towing boat trailers. The boat ramp was a hive of activity as sleek gleaming craft were gradually reversed into the glistening clear sea, and reunited with the element for which they were designed.
    A magnificent wide sweep of almost white sand stretched around the headland. Across the large Tairua Harbour lay the small town of Tairua, hugging the full length of the coast till it reached its imposing full stop, Mount Paku. As I walked around the beach, Slipper, Shoe and the Aldermen Islands came into view. For a while I had the beach all to myself. This was my land until the advancing tide reclaimed it.
    A non-stop convoy a small water craft, loaded to the hilt with fishing rods, threaded their way through the shallows of the glistening turquoise and emerald waters, and rapidly disappeared out into the open sea. Perhaps good fishing was to be had around the off-shore islands.
    On my way out of town, I popped into the new Wetlands Development. Here, fingers of green land pierced a large lagoon that was open to Tairua Harbour at one point. Judging by the number of empty plots for sale, this development was a recent addition to the town.
A Panoramic View from the Tip of Pauanui, Looking Across Tairua Harbour and to Mount Puka Guarding the Harbour Entrance      (please use scroll bar)

    Some of the fingers were already developed, with very expensive looking properties, each with their own jetty, onto which "don't ask how much it costs" boats were moored. The money invested here, and in the properties around the two 9-hole golf courses, gave a hint of how affluent this small town is. It was a pity they couldn't afford street lights.
    I left this jet-setters, or rather light aircraft and yachties town, and make the long drive around to Tairua on the opposite side of the harbour. Here I undertook the climb up Mount Puka to sample the wonderful views to be had over Pauanui, and Tairua and its harbour, from this peak.
    The first settlers arrived in Tairua circa 1840, but did not stay long due to the very primitive conditions encountered.
    By the 1860s settlement was well established, focussed primarily on the Kauri timber trade. Well-established businesses made good income from this trade and employed many "Bushmen".
    Supporting settlers, farmers, traders and businessmen followed and by 1870 there was a comparatively thriving settlement of men, women and children.
    The town at this stage was serviced almost entirely by sea, and it was not until early in the 20th century that reasonable road access was available.
    Access from the sea was always difficult and several ships were wrecked on the bar or on the offshore islands. The steamship Wairoa foundered on the Tairua bar in 1919 and the launch Lorraine in 1923, while the SS Manaia ran aground on Slipper Island in 1926.
    In the early 1860s the first moves were made to exploit the kauri which grew in profusion in the ranges beyond Tairua. By 1864 a sawmill had been established in Tairua. This was subsequently augmented by the establishment of the "Union Sash and Door Company", milling timber and creating joinery for the Auckland market.
A Panoramic View of Part of the Wetlands Development      (please use scroll bar)

    Kauri timber was felled in the hills around Tairua and was transported to Tairua by the use of driving dams which held water and logs back until a sufficient flow and head of water was available to wash the logs down to the Tairua Harbour. This was usually in times of flooding.
    At Tairua, the logs would be captured by booms and separated into the various ownerships. Some would be milled at Tairua, but many were rafted up and towed by ship to Auckland for processing or export.
    Tairua Harbour was once a broad river valley, cut out during the ice ages when sea levels were much lower than today. 18,000-20,000 years ago the sea levels again started to rise, drowning the old valleys and allowing them to silt up. About 6,500 years ago the sea reached its present level and has allowed the sand spit north of Paku to develop and establish a land bridge. It was this land bridge that gave me access to Paku, once a volcanic island.
    Paku's origins as an island volcano commenced about 7-8 million years ago with an explosive eruption of ash and pumice. This process was followed by a second eruption which opened the old vent and allowed lava to be extruded and plug the vent. This formed a rhyolitic dome.
    Subsequent erosion has removed much of the softer materials from the peak leaving the rhyolite dome exposed. It was from this dome that I had a magnificent panoramic view across Pauanui, Tairua Harbour, Tairua, and out at sea the Aldermen Islands and Slipper Island just to mention a few.
    Having done with Pauanui and Tairua, I headed north to Hahei situated on a wonderfully beguiling stretch of pure white sand adjacent to crystal clear waters. At the southern end of Hahei beach, the Te Pare historic reserve is the site of an ancient Maori pa, once occupied by the Ngati Hei people. The tribe and settlement are named after Maori chief Hei who arrived here around 1350.
The Pinnacles
    I wanted to use this small village as a base to visit two popular sights on the peninsula: Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. The campsite was pretty informal. "Don't use this zone," said the woman, pointing to a site plan, "and don't park in that zone. Just park up anywhere else you want in the rest of the site." Easy-peasy.
    Once sorted, I walked the 20m or so to the beach, said "My, my," to myself as I took in the glorious view of white sand, crystal clear water, and clusters of islands, and plonked myself down in my chosen personal acre of space.
    Within minutes I was bored, so I took my first dip in the sea on this trek. It felt chilly at first, but once I took the plunge, it was perfect. I swam out, perhaps further than I ought to, and then leisurely swam my way back without a care in the world. It was as if the waves were washing away all the tensions of constantly driving myself to "must do this, must see that".
    It was too late in the day to go and see the sights, so I was basically killing time on this idyllic beach. After all the dashing about over the last 3 months, I was finding it exceedingly difficult to slow down and do nothing.
    I compromised and strolled up and down the length of the beach, splashing through the wavelets as they rolled up the shore, which helped slow me down somewhat.
    This paradise was less than 3 hours drive from Auckland, and looking about me I could see why half of Auckland headed out to the Coromandel Peninsula at the weekend. It is certainly a stunningly beautiful part of the country.
A Panoramic View From Mount Puka Taking in Pauanui, Tairua Harbour, Tairua and Tairua Ocean Beach      (please use scroll bar)

    I alternated between swimming and walking for a while, and then felt guilty about being behind on my blog, so I retired to the "Internet Room" to catch up. While typing away I got chatting with a guy, Kevin, who originated from South Africa. He had managed to build up enough points 15 years ago and moved to Auckland. He wanted to escape the racial violence that he was witnessing then. I seem to remember meeting up earlier on this trip with another South African guy who had moved to Auckland at a similar time frame for the same reasons.
    "I'm finding it hard doing nothing," I joked with him. He laughed and agreed. "How long are you here for?" I asked, hopefully to glean some more information out of the bloke. "Just a few days, then I will spend a couple of months in Turkey and Greece, followed by a visit to see my folks in South Africa, then perhaps 6 months somewhere else," he told me. "What? Are you holidaying or working?" I enquired, rather intrigued by his response. "Work. I am actually doing some work now. I only work one or two hours per day, but since I work remotely, nobody checks up on me. I am a software programmer, which can all be done remotely, so apart from when I have to meet up with clients, I can be anywhere on the planet," he answered. That statement very much reminded me of Alan's work; he often worked from Kiitaja as we sailed around the UK.
    "So, do you cut code, or do you work at a more abstract level?" I asked. "I write code in C++, sadly a dying language, and the work is drying up," he sighed. "You can always transfer across to a different language," I said offering a glimmer of encouragement. "No, I think at that point I would like to try something totally different. I play guitar. I'm not top flight, but quite proficient. I'd love to be able to earn just enough to get by with. I have a lot of friends who are musicians, and I can see it is not a bed of roses making a living out of it full time, but part time playing would suit me," he told me. "I have come across guys in the UK who just play solo instrumental as background music in restaurants. Mind you that only seems to work in certain parts of the country," I informed him. "That would suit me to the ground," he said.
    Sadly we couldn't carry on our conversation, a German couple took over that area of the room where the only internet terminal worked, and the poor chap had to vacate the seat.
A Panoramic View of Hahei Beach      (please use scroll bar)

    A while later, a couple turned up to use that same internet terminal (out of three, that was the only one that worked), and they hung about until our German chums finished. The bloke, Joe, sounded like a scouser to me. "Are you from Liverpool?" I asked. "No, from Wales," was the response. "I'd guess you live near the Wirral," I probed. "No, Cardiff," he answered. I had worked many times in Cardiff, but Joe's accent was a new one on me. Joe and Rose wanted to find accommodation, perhaps in the Taupo area, though they weren't sure. "We want to visit Rotorua, Taupo and the Tongariro National Park, but we are not sure where to base ourselves. We get conflicting views of where best to stay. Have you been to any of these places?" he asked me. "I've been to all three, but in terms of where to base yourselves, it depends on what you are trying to get out of a place," I told him.
    They just wanted one base for all three, so I recommended Taupo since it is geographically in the centre. The internet access became free for them. "I'm a dinosaur when it comes to computers," said Joe, "I'm a brickie through and through," and he handed over to Rose. I helped them navigate to the site they were after, and left them to it. All they wanted was a motel or cabin where they could cook for themselves. We continued chatting for a while about our travels when they had finished. "Are you getting another car in Sydney?" asked Joe. "No, I will become a standard tourist there," I said and he found that hilarious; no idea why. We parted and they became memories. A nice couple, but I am still unconvinced that Joe came from Cardiff rather than Liverpool.

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Waihi Hahei

Uploaded from Holiday Park Campsite, Whitianga on 28th February at 16:15

Last updated 28.2.2012