Friday, 29 June 2018

Clifftops & Coastlines- Coromandel

Catch-up; I'm trying hard to catch up on my blogs as we're off to Melbourne for two weeks on Monday to visit family and are especially excited as we're going to meet our near-new grandson; 6 month old Otis. I have one more blog to post before Sunday and then I'll be taking a break for a short while. Enjoy these last few Coromandel blogs...

I did a little bit of exploring in between waiting for fish for dinner; driving to Fletcher Bay one day and walking the Muriwai Track another.

Fletcher Bay is at the end of the road, 6kms further on from Port Jackson and also on the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. It's where the Coromandel Coastal Walkway starts (or finishes, depending on which way you walk it) and there's also a large DOC camp tucked into the valley behind the bay.

This road is also a narrow winding road which follows the contours of the land above the cliffs that drop off to the sea below. But this road is not suitable for large vehicles, not because of the road itself but because of a deeper than usual ford crossing not too far beyond Port Jackson. If you are low to the ground and/or have a long overhang you will scrape your backside trying to cross it. But if you do get through, make sure you vacate Fletcher if there's a major weather event forecast- you'll see why in my next blog. 

Fletcher Bay is tucked in front of The Pinnacles, the sharp tooth shaped rock ahead (a couple more are obscured around the point), that's Square Top Island centre left and a tiny portion of Great Barrier Island on the left.

From a look-out point half-way along the cliff edge the 180 degrees views out over the Colville Channel are magnificent- this is looking west towards Cape Colville, which forms the west end of Port Jackson...

... and east towards The Pinnacles, with Cuvier Island on the horizon. Cuvier, an uninhabited island is north of the Mercury Islands. You can see the road at the top of the bush line here, curving it's way towards Fletcher Bay. It's a long way down!

Overlooking Fletcher Bay, just before the road drops down to sea level. The camp reaches quite a way back up the valley behind the bay. Across the way you can see the start of the 10km Coromandel Coastal Walkway (and mountain bike) track which finishes in Stony Bay way over on the otherside of the peninsula and 50km by winding narrow gravel road from here.

We walked the track- to the middle and back from either end on our last visit to the Coromandel- 20kms in total. It was the best way to do it without having to catch a shuttle from the far end back to camp or in fact walk the full 20kms there and back in one day. The link above is the first half of the walk and this is the link for the walk from the Stony Bay end. I'd highly recommend walking all or part of the track though, the views are spectacular.

I did miss walking the Muriwai Track on our previous visit to Port Jackson, I left it too late and then the weather packed up. This time I had the grand idea of doing a daily 6km circuit, up the road from camp, along the Muriwai Walk and back home along the beach but in the end that's all it turned out to be- a grand idea!

Instead I got David to drop me up at the start of the track and then I walked back to camp.....once only! That's him driving home below.

The Muriwai Walk starts out looking pretty average, although there are lovely views down the valley overlooking the road.

But around a couple of corners and the views are absolutely breathtaking! The narrow track stretches out along the clifftop and disappears over the top of the knoll in the distance.

Flaxes, thick kikuyu grass and several large pohutukawa trees hang off the steep cliffs as they drop away to the rocky coastline below. Channel Island and Little Barrier Island are centre stage.

Looking back I can see Flat Top Island, the lookout area and the road to Fletcher Bay; this photo is the reverse of the Cape Colville photo, #3 up above, I hadn't realised that you could actually see the Muriwai track in that photo.

Over the knoll and Cape Colville comes into view with the track running along the top of the ridge line. There's a short track down the edge of this hill, down to the rocks below but it's very steep and I only climb down a short way, to a flat dusty scoop in the ground which looks like it's been a sheep's lookout at some stage. I take a few photos looking along to the Cape...

...and peer over the edge when I get the surprise of my life to see a fisherman on the rocks far below. Well I think it's a fisherman, I can't quite make him out so I zoom in and see that he's all set up for a day's fishing. Where the heck did he come from? And now I feel like I'm spying so I quickly pull back and head up to the track... carry on along the top. The grass is thick and has overgrown the path in places, I have to thread carefully otherwise I stand on the long grass with one foot and trip myself up when the other foot slides underneath it as I step. I have visions of me slipping over the edge...

...and tumbling down the slope, snatching at the grass and flaxes as I whiz past. At least the fisherman would hear me screaming. Click the photo to enlarge, check the red arrow to see him from this angle. The sheep lookout I climbed down to is right up the top, on the edge of the photo.

Finally Port Jackson comes into view over the ridge to the left...

...and down below a tiny hidden cove. The track crosses a narrow ridge above the cove, then climbs up and off along the top again.

Once on the ridge I have a fantastic view of Port Jackson, even spotting 'Out There' tucked in front of the trees at this end of the beach.

And on the other side I now have a clear view of the little cove- apparently known as 'Bum Bay' by the locals for reasons that are now clearly obvious!

I take a few photos of the lovely pohutukawa tree hanging off the side of the cliff above the cove.

You can't see it in the photo above but each pohutukawa along the walk has it's own self-setting gas operated Goodnature possum trap attached to protect it from the furry pests. 

I climb the short flight of steps to the top of the cove, this looking back over the track and up the steps on the other side. It's no wonder there's a caution on the track signs to watch for windy weather.

My photos just don't do the scenery and views justice, many times I stood in awe taking in all the splendour. It is an absolutely spectacular walk and well worth doing, other than a couple of staircases there's not much effort involved either, downhill most of the way if you start at the top.

The track cuts through a farm paddock and finally winds down the last grassy hill to Port Jackson Beach...

...and there's 'Out There' looking very lonely all on her own at this end of the camp. 

I stopped to say hello to Mr & Mrs NZ Dotterel who are feeding near the stream outlet. That's a wind blown Mrs in the top photo, she's a little more nervous than Mr and skirts a wide circle around me as I crouch down to photograph them.

My arrival home is timed just right. The dark broody clouds, which sat high above the range inland from the coast have now moved out over the beach. There's a storm a brewing.

And here's one last photo, I just had to do something with that heart shaped planting of pines on the slopes above Port Jackson Station homestead... 


  1. Fabulous blog and walk..... Having just got home from 6wks in Queensland, NZ is so green. 20 Klms in one day, no mean feat, cameras appear to get heavier on such a walk .... and no accidents, always a bonus. Am sure you'll have a terrific time in Melbourne...I found Australian birds so easy to photograph because they are loud, colourfull and fearless...much like the ozzies!

    1. Thanks Jimu, unfortunately because we spent most of the time in suburban Melbourne, and other than a few rosellas I missed the birds! I was very sad about that, I remember seeing lots on previous visit to Aussie.


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