Whitianga, NZ to Kuaotunu, NZ

12.9 mi / 9.4 mph / 742 ft. climbing
Home: Kuaotunu Holiday Park

Another wet-tent morning, but with our third 15-mile-or-less day in a row (this one with no other excursions planned), we didn’t need to hit the road until 10am “checkout”, which gave plenty of time for the rising sun to dry everything out. I think that’s a first; normally we need to get moving out of camp earlier than tent-drying would allow, so 99% of the time it gets packed up wet and dried out (hopefully!) at some mid-afternoon stop.

Whitianga is the biggest town on the east side of the Coromandel Peninsula, so we stocked up at the Countdown supermarket before heading out. We had a nice chat with a sometimes-cyclist who was backpacking over from his home in Cooks Beach to get groceries here; that’s why the constantly-running ferry that we took yesterday exists, though it kinda sucks that the two supermarkets are more than half a mile from the dock (but that’s why it also takes bikes!)

Waiting at one-way construction zones is an opportunity to 1) take photos, and 2) get photos of the mundane, non-spectacular parts of our rides.

It’s kind of surprising how consistent these short, hilly rides over the last three days have been. They’ve had between 57 and 64 feet of climbing per mile (which is pretty high), and that’s kept our average speed to an even-narrower range of 9.4 to 9.6 miles-per-hour.

There’s not much in Kuaotunu besides a long stretch of north-facing beach and housing a few blocks deep running along it. Curiously the closest thing to a town center is actually isolated to the east, across the river and off the highway. With time to kill, that cluster of two restaurants and a small store is where we headed, and Kua Kawhe Cafe lived up to its 4.9-star Google reputation, with excellent sandwiches and lunch-desserts. After dawdling there long enough, we crossed back over the river (on a pedestrian bridge) and completed the final mile-and-a-half along the water to our campground.

Kuaotunu Beach.
We saw the backpacker on the left (eating an ice cream) trying to hitch a ride on our way out of Whitianga (I gave him my usual “hop aboard!” joke), so he must have been successful since he made it over the hill here shortly after we did. In addition to the swing and tree-climbing, the next tree down had a rope-swing-into-the-river.
Kuoatunu Beach, a rare north-facing beach of the sort we haven’t been on since Prince Edward Island!
Oceanfront riding.

They holiday park played out as we hoped: another super-quiet place because most of the “permanent” caravans weren’t in use in this mid-week off-season, and it’s apparently not attractive to families with their school-holiday kids. Our tent site was nicely-sheltered from the breeze, and the only human in sight was a guy doing renovations on the structure attached to his caravan (a couple of the structures were listed for sale for ~NZ$200k).

Once again, the kitchen and bathrooms were exclusively ours. Like last night’s place, the kitchen didn’t have any eat-in space, but the screened gazebo next to it had nice dining tables, so, problem solved. I unpacked my down jacket for the first time in weeks, but it wouldn’t have even been necessary if we hadn’t been eating outside. Unlike last night, there was no TV lounge/game-room to retire to between dinner and bed. It’s pretty funny how New Zealand has spoiled us so much that we’re like “WTF, this campground doesn’t have a TV lounge?!”

Our all-alone tent spot at Kuaotunu Holiday Park.

I made the 100-yard walk to the beach across the road twice, once before dinner by myself, and once with Rett after dinner, to show her what my previous scouting had suggested would be a spectacular sunset. Unfortunately my sunset-predictions aren’t as accurate as my weather-forecast syntheses, but it was still good to get ourselves out to see the water, something I’m trying hard not to take for granted.

This is why our short-distance rides these days have still been taking an hour and a half.
Seashell responding to the sun’s pink glow.
A river meeting the sea.
The view back to the eastern end of the Kuaotunu Beach.
The settlement of Kuaotunu (including our campground) behind our dune-top ocean vantage point.
Ok, there is a bit of sunset!


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