22 January 2020 – Hahei, Waihi Beach and Bowentown, New Zealand

Alas, it was our final day in beautiful Hahei, before we headed down the East Coast of New Zealand to check out the scenery and towns on our way to Mount Maunganui. Our last night at the Hahei Holiday Resort involved not a lot of sleep, as yet again Zinnia hijacked the bed with her sore gums from teething. Why do my kids always grow all their teeth while on overseas holidays???

No one was keen to leave our lovely cottage in Hahei but we had a quiet breakfast watching the nearby campers pack up, and then the kids voted for a last beach trip while Anto finished off the last of the packing up without their very helpful assistance. Despite the adults being up late the night before packing – as per usual – there is always a million things to do the next day. At about 8.45am the kids and I wandered the 50m to the beach while Anto enjoyed the silence and never-ending bag packing.

As usual, the beach was gorgeous. You just can’t beat the colour of the water. It was way too chilly for me but the kids had a great time playing in the sand and the shallows. Unfortunately there was a very strong undertow and I was supervising 3 of them on my own (including Zinnia who thought she could run wherever she wanted) so they were limited to just playing on the very edge for their final beach morning.

The freezing water wasn’t diminishing the smiles and I still had to drag them out when it was approaching our check out time.

After rinsing all the sand off, yet again and some clean and dry clothes, I helped Anto with the last of the packing while the big 2 went across to the resort cafe to purchase us our coffees in our keep cups. It was their favourite job. Given the cafe was 10 metres from our cottage and made great coffees, we were happy to encourage this behaviour.

We were reluctant to leave Hahei with it’s gorgeous beach and lovely views but we unfortunately couldn’t get a 4th nights accommodation even when we’d booked a couple of months out. It was still peak Summer season and school holidays, so there weren’t a lot of options in this area of the Coromandel Peninsula. We had decided instead to break up the drive to our next main destination, Rotorua, with a visit to a few other towns and a night in Mount Manganaui. There were plenty of walks and lovely scenery to be enjoyed on the way, and less large blocks of time in the car with kids is always a good idea.

We bid farewell to Hahei, with plans to one day return, and set off on the 1 hour 45 minute trek to Waihi Beach. The first 40 minutes of driving were the reverse of our drive in on Sunday night, and again on winding roads, but very scenic. This time Astrid managed to enjoy it without feeling too car sick.

Zinnia, over due for her morning nap was fairly quickly asleep and the bigger kids enjoyed the scenery as we wound our way down the coast.

Astrid and Soren also succumbed to the sleep gods, tired after long days in the sun. Anto and I were rejoicing at the silence while we zipped along the highway. After no more than 5 minutes, Astrid woke up to tell us she felt sick from the winding roads, meaning a quick stop, but vomit avoided. That was the end of the silence though!

The rest of the trip through to Waihi Beach was a little slow, stuck in a line of many motor homes and camper vans, heading back down from the Peninsula. We did eventually get to Waihi Beach about 12.15pm. We drove through Waihi where we had ridden to, and stayed, several days earlier but this time kept going towards Waihi Beach. We had been keen to visit Waihi Beach having heard great things about it from friends and relatives, but during out time in Waihi we were on our bikes and the kids leg power wasn’t going to stretch to another 20km return of cycling given the amount they had already achieved!

We parked the car and found a cafe ‘Flat White’ by the beach. It rated well and indeed seemed popular. We mnaged to get a table and we were all hungry after a long morning of beach going and driving.

The kids ordered various things off the kids menu (pizzas and hot dogs), whereas Anto opted for a seafood chowder and I had a rosti with mushroom ragout. The cafe had a wonderful view and the meals were very good. Not a cheap option but a lovely lunch out.

With full bellies it was off for a wander of the beach. Waihi Beach is beautiful and the kids immediately ran off to collect shells (they were everywhere) and dance.

On a sunny day the sky was reflecting off the water and it was one of the flattest beaches we’ve visited. Perfect for kids to run and dance!

The kids had been angling for a swim, but it wasn’t all that warm and we had plenty of driving still to do, so we convinced them that shell collecting was the way to go. They weren’t impressed, apparently it is never too cold for kids to swim but the adults begged to differ so they had to make do with the beautiful views and many shells instead.

My camera got a work out, Waihi Beach is definitely a very pretty place and we are glad we made it on our way back down the coast.

We tried to convince the kids to leave some shells on the beach (a lot somehow ended up back in the car though) and it was back to the car for the short 10 minute drive to nearby Bowentown for some scenic views.

We found a spot to park near ANZAC Bay and walked up both sides of the hill for views both over the bay and back to Waihi Beach.

Again the water colour was amazing. The colour of the water in this part of New Zealand is just gorgeous and on such a clear day you could see for miles. The track up the hill was incredibly steep and I again got to lug Zinnia in the ergo, giving my legs a good workout. Although Anto had the job of keeping Soren away from the edges and sheer drops, which was also tough work!

Astrid was not impressed about being made to walk up steep hills after many days of cycling and hikes but agreed that the views at the top were worth it!

There were plenty of people swimming, kayaking and picnicking in ANZAC Bay. I would have been keen on a walk down there but the kids legs said no. As did Anto’s plan to make it to Mount Maunganui before dark. So, it was up the other side of the hill for views back across to Waihi Beach. We could even see the cafe where we had lunch!

We did get a few strange looks from people as we were wandering up and down the steep tracks with three kids, but this was nothing compared to some of our other hikes, and the views were magic on a lovely Summer’s day.

While an afternoon of lazing in the sun seemed like a better idea, we still had an hours drive to our hotel for the night. Zinnia was well overdue for her afternoon nap, but was not convinced on sleeping. Her brother though was obviously over tired and snoozed much of the drive away, while Zinnia sang, squealed and worked her way through many snacks and a bottle, without giving into sleep.

The traffic wasn’t great so it was a slow trip with 1 over tired baby but we did enjoy seeing plenty of avocado and kiwifruit farms. Since leaving Auckland more than a week earlier, we hadn’t been through any particularly large towns until we hit Tauranga, the biggest place we’d seen in quite awhile (with traffic to match).

Soon, we were at Mount Maunganui, our stop for the night. We had some hikes and sight seeing planned for the following day when we had plenty of time (and more energy in our legs!). After checking into our motel which was adjacent to both the highway and major sporting grounds, Zinnia decided that she wasn’t going to sleep in the lovely cot, and we gave up and went for a walk to the nearby supermarket for dinner and breakfast supplies. She of course promptly fell asleep in the ergo during the walk, but a nap was sorely needed

The Mount Maunganui supermarket was also the biggest we’d encountered in awhile and had a good range with decent prices, so we stocked up on supplies and wandered back to the motel, picking up some fresh avocados for sale from a house en route. The kids opted for a swim in the tiny (and of course freezing) motel pool. They had fun, but didn’t last too long in the cold water.

It was then salad and toasties for dinner in the hotel room, before bundling the kids off to bed for a good nights sleep before the next days adventures. We had quite a bit of walking to do the next day and plenty of mud was also promised.

Daily statistics for Wednesday 22 January 2020

The temperature range in Hahei, Waihi Beach and Mount Maunganui, New Zealand was 14 to 24 degrees and sunny. A very pleasant Summers day, if only New Zealand could figure out how to make their water warmer!

We did quite a bit of driving for the day, travelling down the coast from Hahei through to Waihi Beach for lunch, nearby Bowentown for a hike and then on to Mt Maunganui for our stop for the night. In total we drove a little over 170km, taking around 3 hours.

Here is a google map of our days driving.

Our total walking for the day was 7.0km

Up next…..

A very steep but scenic trip up Mount Maunganui with beautiful views, blow holes and icecream rewards. Then an afternoon of geothermal fun at Hell’s Gate in Rotoura. There was boiling mud, steam, hot walks and then a relax and scrub in the mud pools!

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