Coromandel and its beaches were our next goal. We followed the Highway all the way up north, through Thames (for us it was just another town – not really interesting), along the shore with some stunning lookouts on the way, to Coromandel town, where we had a little stop for an iced coffee and a power plug to load cameras and laptop.
From there the roads got smaller and worse, until we got the sealed road behind us and watched the sun sink below the ocean and the moon rise over the green hills and gnarly trees of Coromandel's far North. The gravel roads up there are a bit scary at night, because they are literally right next to the sea, and quite high above it in parts, so if you look out and down from your window, sometimes all you see are the waves crushing against the rocks. But the views make up for the driving. After about an hours worth of gravel, we reached the first of three DOC camp sites and gratefully took the chance to fall into bed.
The next day greeted us with even more sunshine. We had a breakfast next to the sea and then kept driving along the only road up there. It continues along rocky coast, with some sandy beaches in between and always in viewing distance of the great deep Blue. It really has a fascinating color in places – shades from deep dark blue like a nights sky to bright turquoise right out of a Caribbean postcard.
Driving along the northern edge of the peninsula, we could see Little and Great Barrier Island not too far away. After these stunning views, the road turns inland shortly, before having its final stop at a beach camp site, a nice base for the three hours walk to the next road on the other side of the peninsula.
Doing one-way walks doesn't really make sense with our car though, so we enjoyed the view and turned around again to follow the long gravel road back towards the Coromandel east coast.