Sept 2nd- 5th
We left The Coromandel in the morning heading for the Bay of Plenty. We stopped off at Karangahake Gorge (again, another place we visited in 2012). It had just finished pouring with rain, we took the walk along the train tracks and into the tunnels, where at the 'windows' you could look out to the gorge below, where when mining they would through the bad ore out the window. It was optional to take a torch, however inside the tunnels it was pitch black, and a torch really should be brought! The tunnels were also dripping big droplets of water which was lurking in the ceilings. We walked for a while before finding out the walk way was closed and we couldn't complete the circle and had to turn back where we came from.
The next town was Paeroa, made famous as part of the Kiwi favourite soft drink 'L & P' - 'Lemon and Paeroa', so of course we grabbed some L & P and and posed in front of the gigantic L & P bottle monument- way too cheesy for Shan!!
We continued down to the Bay of Plenty and to the city of Tauranga pronounced like tow (in towel)- rang- ga) and stayed at 'Tauranga Tourist Park' for €15 pp. We originally booked for 2 nights but liked it so much we booked another. The ground was wet as it had been terrible weather , but the park was nice, with free wifi and free hot showers. We made a friend in one of the parks cats who liked to snuggle up whilst we watched tv with a lovely hot heater nearby.
Tauranga is New Zealands' newest and up and coming city and theres even government incentives for Kiwis to move there. We certainly thought it was a lovely place. Tauranga is dominated but Mount Maunganui 'The Mount' which we scaled one surprisingly less rainy day. We chose the harder of the two walks to the top and I was seriously unfit but the views at the top were certainly rewarding. The sky was clear and we could see for miles below us. It was also quite windy at the top so it was nice to cool down after the climb, after a look round we made our descent down the scenic, less challenging route. We got to see new born lambs and their protective mothers and little bunny rabbits bouncing around the fields.
We visited the historic village on 17th Avenue, which wasn't up to much, but we can imagine it'll be busy with tourists in the summer walking down the cobbled streets, looking in the vintage shops and supping on a drink at the bar.
It was time for more waterfalls, we visited McLaren Falls which was 20 minutes drive out of town down the star highway, they were fast flowing and gushing. We climbed down and took a seat on some rocks and watched the water rush past.
Also out of town down a confusing road we went to Omanawa Falls (Shan took note of this from an episode of The Batchelor NZ tv show). We walked down a dirt road and found the falls, we stopped at the viewing platform to look out, as Shan had heard there are a lot of accidents with people trying to climb down the rock face to the falls, it's also a dis-used power plant and people try climb through that before finding themselves in difficulty.
Back in Tauranga we wandered along the Strand looking in the shops and enjoying a beer in the 'Crown and Badger'.