05 August 2011

Coromandel Town to Auckland Ferry

This finally concludes my posts about this first trip I took when I first came to Auckland. FINALLY. I took this trip in the tail end of January and I'm only finishing it now. Phew.

Instead of taking a bus back to Auckland, I decided to take a ferry which would be faster and afford me different views. We sailed through the Hauraki Gulf, which is pretty sheltered and so had a smooth journey. The photos say it all:

One of my favourite photos from this trip

Beverages for your refreshment

Ample space to move and stretch

The engine is so loud, you wouldn't hear it playing anyway

Bikes travel free

Outgoing cruise ship, with the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the background

City skyline

Hmm how much do these apartments cost?
Thanks to PC and his flatmate who picked me up from the wharf and saved me another bus trip back.

03 August 2011

Driving Creek Railway, Coromandel Town

Driving Creek Railway is definitely the tourism gem of the Coromandel. It's a single man's labour of love over 30 years as he built the railway by himself (mostly) section by section. Rather than repeating the same words, read the excellent history from their website.

The 1 hour ride was enjoyable even if I felt cramped in the small seats. I was sitting across from a New Caledonian couple with their toddler so I amused myself looking at them teach the daughter how to apply sunscreen. The breathtaking parts were when we emerged from bush into a clearing and we could see across the Hauraki Gulf to all the islands nearby.

Pottery on display, presumably made on site

Previous tour group coming in

Brick kiln

Tour guide explaining do's and don'ts

At certain points during the trip, the driver has to come down and switch tracks as it's going to go up the other way

There are 2 trains on every tour

The original final stop

Final stop

The Eyefull Tower

Observation deck offering wide views - notice the pollution free sky bursting with unparalleled levels of UV rays

One of the tunnels we drove through
It's just amazing how one person has the vision and the dedication to take this through to the end.

01 August 2011

Coromandel Town, Coromandel

On the last day of my trip I journeyed to Coromandel Town via Tairua Bus Company. The plan is to catch the afternoon ferry back to Auckland instead of returning by bus. I had quite a few hours to kill so I took a short stroll around. It's a quaint town with lots of old buildings that make you feel like you're back in the past century...

i-Site Information Center
 I kept my main luggage at the i-Site while I went exploring on foot with my day bag.

The main street

Even the flag is frayed. WTH?

I like seeing how architects try to make their church stand out from others while maintaining the basic motifs
I was done with the town itself in about an hour, so I took a long walk to Driving Creek Railway set outside the town. There are no buses, and I'm not keen to call a taxi (not that I saw one), so it was either hitchhike or walk.

Next post: Driving Creek Railway

13 July 2011

Tea Party

As I don't drink coffee, I have resorted to trying out different kinds of tea to battle the boredom of plain water. It's also a great way to warm up when it gets a bit chilly. At the moment I've got 8 teas in my office drawer:
  1. Green tea with lemongrass and lemon
  2. Whole leaf Chinese white tip green tea
  3. White tea
  4. Chai tea (black tea with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper)
  5. Lemongrass tea
  6. Pomegranate & grape fruit infusion
  7. Tamarillo & honey fruit infusion
  8. Guarana herbal tea (containing as much caffeine as a standard cup of coffee)
This is in addition to the complimentary tea stocked in the office - English tea, jasmine green tea, and South African rooibos (red bush) tea. On any given day I'd take about 3 or 4 different types of tea - of which I'll limit to a single cup of tea with creamer and sugar. Everything else is taken sans sugar.

I've also got chamomile tea at home for relaxation and sleep aid, but that's not something I need often in a place like New Zealand.

07 July 2011

Review: Squids Bar and Restaurant

On the penultimate day of my travel I decided to treat myself to a proper good meal. For 6 days I've existed on Subway sandwiches and hastily cooked pasta meals in hostel kitchens, so enough is enough!

My phone's Ovi Maps GPS application has a Trip Advisor utility that combines tourism reviews with the address, so it can suggest and show me nearby places. Under restaurants it recommended Salt as the #1 place to eat, based on user ratings. So I eagerly made my way there:

I stood near the entrance and inspected the menu posted. No one came to ask me if I wanted a table, so I just walked in and plopped down at a table in the al fresco area overseeing the marina. It could have been a pretty peaceful sight if not for the 5 or 6 kids playing roughly while their parents socialize, uninterrupted by the ruckus.

But the thing that broke the camel's back was being ignored. Passing waiters did not bother to hand me a menu or serve. After 5 minutes I got up and just walked out. I instead dined at the eatery across Salt - Squids Bar and Restaurant. What a great choice!

Continue reading my review of Squids after the jump.

04 July 2011

Review: Cat's Pyjamas, Whitianga

This hostel was one of the better ones I stayed at in this trip. Though quite crowded we're sufficiently spread out, with plenty of common areas to relax. It's a short 5-10 minute walk to the marina and beach, so a strategic location.

The manager is very friendly, though the resident cat may not always be! Tairua Bus Company (Nakedbus) transports can stop and pick up from this hostel - just let the driver/hostel manager know in advance.

Cat's Pyjamas reception

Well equipped kitchen with working stuff!

Dining area inside

Lots of places to chill outside

Catch some sun or sea breeze here

Living room with books and DVDs

Common bathroom

11 June 2011

Cathedral Cove @ Hahei, Coromandel

Nearby Whitianga is the town of Hahei, which has 2 main attractions - Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Due to my trip planning I did not manage to visit Hot Water Beach. I later found out that summer isn't a good time to be digging your own thermal pool in the sand anyway. Now would be different though!

Cathedral Cove was featured in the second Narnia film - Prince Caspian. In case you don't remember (it was such a forgettable movie after all), watch the trailer and see where they are at 0:45:

It seems only in Narnia can kids run through the cove as in reality the place is cordoned off and declared unstable.

My experience continues after the jump.