New Zealand Day 8: We discover the Coromandel Peninsula

Our second Monday in New Zealand dawned with decent weather, but the boat was nowhere near ready for the sail we'd been planning on taking. Sibyl was anxious to have some time alone with me, and after a brief discussion, we all decided that Sibyl and I should go exploring on our own for a day or two.

We decided, after consulting a map, to drive out to the Coromandel Peninsula. It's a relatively short drive from Auckland, and promised to be interesting.

The Peninsula

[Coromandel Peninsula] The drive from Auckland to the Peninsula passed without significant event. We decided to stop in a small town called Thames, to find lunch, and spend some time touristin' around. We stopped at a book store, and when I tried to use my debit card, it was rejected. I paid for the books in my hand with cash, and started freaking out that my bank account was empty or that they'd cut off my card thinking it had been stolen by a wily Kiwi who didn't spend much.

We found an Internet cafe/laundromat (I can't make this stuff up), and Sibyl paid for an hour of online time so I could try to sort out what was going on with my card. The search was fruitless, however, and the best I could figure was that it was a random coincidence that my card was rejected -- it worked in an ATM we found down the street.

Panic over, we found our way back to the car, and continued up 25 toward the town of Coromandel, where we figured we would stop for the night. I was struck, during my time in Thames, that I could easily live in such a town. I remarked up on that to Sibyl, and she agreed.

[Auckland in the distance] The road quickly narrowed down, and became twisty, following the contours of the coastline. We passed endless picturesque beaches, facing across to Waiheke Island and Auckland in the distance.

[Sibyl tries driving] Sibyl looked over at me at one of the stops, and said, "can I try driving?" I said, "sure," and we switched spots. She'd been reluctant to ask before, with everyone in the car -- my dad can be an imposing presence. Sibyl was obviously happier getting away from "the family" for a bit, and could relax. Driving on the "wrong" side of the road can be mentally taxing, when you've trained your whole life for the opposite, and Sibyl was clearly concentrating on the task. I didn't have any complaints about her driving, though. And for all that it's weird to drive on the left side of the road, it's even weirder to be a passenger in the seat you're used to driving from.

[What a nice couple] The drive continued, along the water, and up over a pass. We looked out into the valley were Coromandel is located, and began the descent into town. In short order, and past more emerald green rolling hills, we got into town. We found a small motel with space, and parked the lumbering beast of a Toyota.

[Coromandel town] We took a tour of Coromandel town, and settled on a restaurant with outdoor seating for dinner. Coromandel was a smaller town than Thames, and was a more obviously tourist-oriented town. It used to be a gold town, with gold mines up in the hills to the south. It looked like more of an attraction for local tourists than international tourists, so I was happy to be there. We didn't encounter any other American accents that evening, which was pleasant. I'm very fond of the New Zealand accent.

[Sibyl against the sunset] [Ian does a little dance] [Sibyl in sunset light]

After dinner, we took a long walk, and sat down out at a park on the water. It was a nice night, although I recall not quite having enough clothes on for the temperature. I started playing with the camera as we talked, trying to capture the interesting light coming off the sunset. It was a very pleasant evening.

Return to the Introduction - Go on to Day 9

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