Monday 8 April 2013

Whangapoua & the Singing Sand

We travelled across the range from Coromandel township with no problems although it was a tough struggle up the steep first section. This road had a gravel section not too long ago but it’s now totally sealed. There was a lot of traffic on the road including a group of bikers that were stretched out for just about the whole distance. We had to watch for them on the blind corners, a few got a bit of a fright. Unfortunately the car park at the lookout was full & we couldn’t pull in so I was unable to grab some photos of both sides of the peninsula and it was such a clear day too.

Friends who have a bach (holiday home) in Whangapoua had offered us their driveway to park in for a few nights which was a very much appreciated gesture from them as there is definitely no freedom camping in this beautiful part of the Coromandel.  We even have a power point to plug into too, which is an added bonus. We checked out their drive on arrival but it was a little too narrow to back into but thankfully they have an arrangement with the neighbouring bach owners & we were able to back the van in down their side of the fence. Perfect! Thanks very much Jess & Ian,

Whangapoua is a typical New Zealand seaside resort that at the moment is a very sleepy little settlement with dozens of baches from the very flash & expensive jobs; now called holiday homes, to the iconic & very typical Kiwi bach. I can see that this little place would be a hive of activity & extremely busy over the summer holidays. Whangapoua looks out toward the Mercury Islands; an area we were very familiar with when we had our boat. It has a beautiful white sand crescent shaped ocean beach and the sand actually squeaks as you walk over it. This is caused by quartz sand and I’ve heard that overseas, white sand beaches are called “singing beaches” because of the sound.
The northern end of the beach is dominated by a small island called Pungapunga which in Maori means yellow.
On the evening that we arrived we drove back to check out the small wharf located on the huge estuary that we’d seen as we followed the road into the beach. We’d love to explore this area in a small boat, there would be an amazing amount of birds living & feeding in the estuary. It was high tide and there were a couple of keen fishermen trying their luck off the jetties. The water was crystal clear & we could actually see a lot of fish swimming around the jetty poles, David decided he might like to come back & try his luck later.

Today we took a short walk out to Opera Point which forms one side of the entrance to the estuary. Luckily is was half tide so I could get around to the point but there was nothing on the sign board pointing out that you’d probably not make it at full tide. In fact the track was a tad confusing & while David thought it must end when we got to the sand banks of the estuary I followed footsteps around the point to where there were some lovely rock formations & this rock with a hole in it. I’m guessing this is where the opera reference comes into it.

After the walk I left David fishing at the wharf, in fact it wasn’t quite the wharf, one of the boat skippers gave him a couple of tips to fish back where the channel buoys were, he had no luck & kept getting his gear snagged. I walked back home taking some photos of the interesting house numbers & names along the way.

I also ventured down each of the beach access ways to check out the view, this caught my eye & made me smile.
But where are the oars? ;)

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