Coromandel, NZ to Tapu, NZ

22.3 mi / 9.1 mph / 1667 ft. climbing
Home: Tapu Motor Camp

The warm glow from our cabin door lighted the cool pre-dawn darkness at 6am, due to our alarm waking us earlier than it has in quite some time. Despite no tent to takedown, we still didn’t get rolling until 8:30am, so we must be out of practice. The “good” news was that the headwind was already supposed to be up and running, and an earlier start (unusually) wouldn’t have done much to help us avoid it.

Our into-the-wind ride south (now on the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula) at least stuck right to the coast…except where it didn’t. Twice it veered inland, choosing to go over the headlands rather than tracing their edges. The first was 550 feet tall, and the second, 700. It was all worth it for the views!

Small islands everywhere near Coromandel.
And plenty of deeply-carved bays cutting into the mainland.
Your periodic reminder that we see sheep every day.
Another bay that is just part of someone’s farm.
It’s that hilly farm country of New Zealand that we love so much, but now intercut with the sea!

Between the headwind and hills, I had Rett so scared about how long it would take to go 22 miles that when we hit a one-way construction zone in the middle of the first hill, she blew right through the light as it turned from green to yellow. If I was leading, I would have stopped, taken the opportunity for a rest, and reduced the risk of oncoming traffic obliterating us, but hmm, I guess I better follow now!

Luckily there was a worker in the middle of the zone who was manually controlling the light, and rather than being pissed at us for making him make the oncoming traffic wait twice as long, he cheerfully yelled something about how crazy we must be for riding such heavy bikes up these hills. And then the first two drivers in the line waiting for us gave similar expressions of support rather than anger. On one of the highways coming from Auckland there is a sign that says “Relax…you’re on Coromandel Time now”. They really must take that to heart here!

A sheep-carved cone of green.
Wider view of the cone, to show all the different shapes around it.
“Cattle high above the water” reminds me of some vaguely-similar photos from Big Sur. It’s not quite Big Sur here, but not that far off!
On the descent to mussel farms.
Some of the topography here is a bit rough even for sheep.

Once we completed our second up-and-down, the peninsula’s coast changed dramatically, with the deeply-carved jagged edge turning into a smooth flowing line. This allowed the road to stick directly to the water’s edge, with a cliff rising on our left side and a “guardrail” of pohutukawa trees on our right.

A stuck-to-the-coast road unlike anything we’d seen on our circumnavigation of the Coromandel Peninsula (and we’ve seen little like it in all of New Zealand).

Due to our unrelaxed approach, we made it to our holiday park destination before noon! It turned out the winds weren’t really a problem at all, though despite spending four days waiting for good riding weather, it was still spitting rain from time to time and not the full sunshine the forecast showed. We’ll happily trade that wrong for a wrong though.

The Tapu Motor Camp (and especially the unpowered tenting area) projects a bit out into the bay, so perhaps that’s why the winds finally caught us at our destination, or maybe they just picked up after noon. Either way, their steady flow off the bay inspired us to walk across the highway to the “hotel” in hopes of a lingering lunch (since the campground had no lounge or even a real seating area in its small kitchen), but they weren’t open until dinner. Crap! So, back to our site, where we carefully placed our camp chairs in front of a bush that did a surprisingly good job of breaking the wind. Still, wearing our down jackets at lunch is definitely unusual! Afterwards we cozied up in the tent and eventually fell into some mid-afternoon napping, something even more rare than lunch-jackets!

It was a beautiful spot though, just steps from the water, and once dinner time rolled it around it took us a long time to get to the kitchen because there was too much sunset-enjoyment that had to happen first. For this meal we just went ahead and commandeered the single corner utility table (bringing in chairs from outside), because this is another of those out-of-season holiday parks where we’re literally the only people there using the kitchen.

The view from our tent at Tapu Motor Camp.
It would have been nice if our tent spot wasn’t an incredibly-long distance from the bathrooms/kitchen, but we needed to be this far out to use that tree/fence/bushes as a windbreak. And it’s quite an epic spot then.
Closeup of our home for the night.
The sunset searing right through Rett’s arm.
Sunset layers.
Another sunset silhouette.


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