It’s not only the volcanic national park areas that provide great walking in New Zealand.
The Coromandel Peninsula also offers superb walking with the Coastal Walkway promoted as a ‘secret Great Walk’ and Coromandel Town is proving to be a great base to follow a number of trails.
This morning, I set off to follow a couple of them up the mountainsides.
The Success Track starts a few streets along the road from our hotel and with a guide picked up from the i-site in town, it was easy to find.
(I know that i-site refers to information but everytime I say the word I keep thinking ‘optician’).
The track very quickly began climbing through the forest and I was very pleased when I reached the superbly titled Fred’s Rest.
I don’t know who Fred was but he had the right idea about this spot.
Looking out to sea, it was understandable how Cook had failed to spot the Town’s sheltered harbour, nestling behind the small entrance.
I didn’t rest long and rejoined the sticky mud trail through the forest. Tree ferns and evergreens surrounded me on all sides.
Regular readers should have realised by now that I am no botanist.
It was cool, almost cold in the shade and I walked, listening to the crickets which practically drowned out the birds calls.
I’m not very good at identifying bird song either.
Most of the trails that I have followed have also appeared on the Maps.Me app which comes in very useful when you move out of signal and lose Google Maps.
The Success Track doesn’t appear to be on Maps.Me though the Kaipawa Trig Track, which it connects to, is. However, I don’t think the Maps.Me entry is completely accurate… keep reading.
I reached the top of one ridge and was briefly out in scrub. Back in the woodland, the trees were not as tall as they had been further down the hill.
The zigzagging trail continued up the mountain and the frequent switchbacks bring regular views across the sapphire bay.
Gavin and Barbara had said that hikes through the woodland would allow you to see lots of goldmine entrances.
As well as playing a part in preventing kauri die back, sticking to the path stops you from falling into any mine shafts. The gold boom riddled the hillsides with exploratory mining.
This is the bit where I find out about the mapping accuracy. Well done for staying the distance.
I thought the trail would branch giving me an option of heading up to Tokatea, which I was keen to revisit even though I had already been there.
However, I ended up on the trail to Whangapoua look out. I knew something wasn’t quite right and I retraced my steps a couple of times checking the Maps.Me app where I was in relation to the Kaipawa Track.
As I had left the Success and joined the Kaipawa, I think I should have taken the path branching left to follow the Kaipawa Trig Point. However, I trusted the Maps.Me data which showed this was a dead end.
However, there was no sign to indicate the path would lead to Tokatea.
Still, in heading to Whangapoua Lookout, I was at least heading downhill on a broader and drier path.
Whangapoua Hill Lookout is a few miles outside Coromandel Town and offers beautiful views across the bay.
I sent this picture to a friend asking: “How’s this for a picnic spot?”
His response: it’s alright, I suppose.
The Lookout is quite a busy spot. At least five carloads of people had parked up and tramped up the steps to gasp at the view while I ate my sandwiches.
The Whangapoua Lookout marks one end of the Kaipawa Track.
If I wanted to continue with the forest bathing, I’d have to go back the way I came… but that was uphill.
I followed the road into town and before continuing my walk, refueled with icecream at Trailer Treats… cranberry this time.
I was heading for Long Bay and Tuck’s Bay but I got distracted by a sign for the Kauri Block Walk and Pa Lookout.
This is how I travel. I set off to do visit one thing and end up seeing something that sends me off course because it looks more interesting. I’m like a magpie spotting sparkly goodness.
The Kauri Block Walk featured a number of display boards about the efforts by Kauri 2000 to replant kauri trees to try to return the peninsula to a state resembling how it would have appeared 250 years ago.
There were also displays about the efforts to rescue the kiwi which is proving far more successful than anticipated.
The 100th kiwi chick from the Peninsula has been released onto the predator-free Motutapu island as part of efforts to restore the local population of the national bird.
Coromandel’s efforts are exceeding the goals of the Department of Conservation.
Much of the local success is attributed to the fact that 75% of Coromandel kiwis live in zones with predator and pest controls in place (to tackle possums, stoats and rats… none of which are native to New Zealand).
Conservation and taking care of the environment is a key issue locally and when you have views like this, you can see why.