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Date: 03 Jul 2016 07:18:14
Title: Coromandel coast

Dear Family and Friends,

30th June 2016

With our early departure from Havelock North, on a quite miserable day, we motored out of Hawk's Bay with some sense of leaving behind a lovely place but we are glad to be moving again too. Having spent much of the last 2 years travelling and moving our base it has got to be a habit! Both lifestyles have their good points and their downsides, like hauling cases and food bags in and out of places! 

1st July 2016

We retraced our steps via Lake Taupo. This is the thermal valley but especially dramatic in the cooler temperatures as the steam vents show up more vividly with their plumes and steaming vents, quite something. The Coromandel peninsula lies to the east of Auckland. So much greener than Hawk's Bay, we have lucked out again with the weather today, although cool it is gloriously sunny. Picnic-ed on the beach near Whangamata and its scenic river mouth with Dottrels and Oyster Catchers for company.

The countryside is much like the coast north of Whangarei, with plenty of coves and offshore islets crowned with trees. More hills, steep wooded valleys, twisting tortuous roads, farming stations..... I've stopped taking photos of them all however they remain glorious. More awesome (a much over used word), is the Martha Mines at Waihi, near the western coast at the base of the peninsula. Unfortunately we couldn't go on the gold mine tour, health and safety rears its head again, the flashing light on the transport was broken, a shame. The award winning gold discovery centre is very good as are many of NZ's other museums and believe me they seem to have a museum for everything despite their short history.

We learnt that the high purity gold and silver has been deposited in seams by raising hot waters within a quartz dome and yields gold the size of a small coin, per ton of rock, which has to be blasted from the bed rock, transported to the surface, crushed and ground to a fine powder before being treated with cyanide which amalgamates with the gold and silver. Further processes involving lead and electrolysis separate the individual metals from the slurry, smelt them, refine them and cast them into ingots. It is a massive undertaking for the volume of pure metal realized at the end; today's gold price is $1850 per ounce, no wonder! Mining is still in operation today nearly 130 years after the first prospectors came. It is only viable due to the high price and the presence of larger quantities of silver, open cast mining as well as traditional shafts to 600m and mechanization. We went to view the Martha open mine, wow one big whole in the ground, currently not in use due to a landslip.

Whitianga, (Mercury Bay, named as much of this coast is, by Captain Cook when he landed here), where we are staying has a little harbour and marina. If we had been sailing at present we would have called here. After a freezing night in an outside cabin, We high tailed it to Cathedral Cove, to beat the rising tide and see the impressive rock arch and beautiful bays. Despite it being mid winter, the sun was out and the views wonderful. Next stop just a little down the coast was Hahei where a thermal vent warms the beach sand and water. So you dig your own pool and bath in it and as we sat there with the tide rushing in, the temperature seemed to rise from warm to too hot in just 20 minutes or so. What a strange phenomena.

Back up the west coast and across the summit of the Coromandel range and following the east coast down the peninsula as it hugs the cliffs and the beach, quite different to the west coast. Coromandel town itself could have jumped right out of a western movie, charming and so like a set, it just lacked a place to tie your horse.

Well this will be the last blog for a while anyway as we catch our planes tomorrow and back to an uncertain UK post Brexit, what a game changer.

Its been great having you along and we wont hole up in Kent forever. We are looking for the next boat and adventure.

All our best,

Lynne and Alan

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