The Ulverston party divided on leaving Rotorua with the exam group heading for Auckland ready for their flight the next day. The rest of us went on to the Coromandel Peninsula. This area is blessed with some of NZ’s best sandy beaches and a great climate. We had booked into the Opoutere YH not realising what it was like. This YH is a 1908 schoolhouse with cabins added in the grounds. The white buildings were set in mature bush surrounded by the calls of native birds. It is positioned on the estuary overlooking the sand spit and the Pacific Ocean beyond. The perfect place to recharge our batteries before our journey home.
Our first day was spent relaxing with pupils making use of the free kayaks before walking to the beach through the pine forest. While it was not safe to swim we spent the time with a sandcastle competition. The next day we went to Hahei to join a 3 hour sea kayaking tour. We paddle out to some nearby islands before landing at Cathedral Cove . This has striking white cliffs with a long sheltered and sandy beach bisected by an impressive rock arch that vaults over the sand like the nave of a cathedral. The guide made fresh hot chocolate while we swam in the warm sea before we paddle back through the rocky marine reserve to the vans.
Our last day had a late start. Our surf lesson started after lunch at Whangamata beach. After squeezing into wetsuits for the last time, instruction was given on the beach. Some had trouble jumping up onto the board on the ground. There seemed to be little hope for doing the same in the sea. The sea conditions were perfect – onshore surf with an onshore wind. Perfect for beginners, but they still kept falling in. Jonny was the first up only to finish with a head first dive. Everyone else perfected the side or back dismount. Very few stayed standing for very long – although both Will and Meghan managed a 5 photo ride.
We are now waiting for the drive to Auckland and the beginning of the long journey home. Hopefully this will be our last communication…………..!