On our trip to the Coromandel we'd decided we would take a boat trip from Whitianga out to explore more of the coastline, partly because we had little people and grandparents with us who might not want to walk for hours to hidden bays and coves and also because hey...boat rides are pretty fun right?!
Off on a grand sea adventure....before feeling sick anyway!
There are quite a few different companies that can take you out on a boat trip out to see the pristine coastline and we did some research before going to Whitianga but in the end we found the best way to try to decide which trip to go on was by checking out the reviews on Trip Advisor.
What we liked about the prospect of going on the trip with Sea Cave Adventures was the potential to get closer into the sea caves and have a more personal experience with our knowledgeable guide Les.
Luckily we had a few days to choose from as there were a couple of stormy days in the middle of our week's holiday. In the end we went for an 8am sailing on the last morning of our holiday and it was definitely the best decision as it was the most calm time of the day.
Even then we had two very green looking children who weren't used to the bobbing of the boat on the open water. Not helped by the fact they sat in the front of the boat where it was the worst. Seasickness aside we loved our trip which took us out of the Whitianga harbour past Flax Mill Bay around to Cathedral Cove, past Hot Water Beach and to the Orua Sea Cave - one of the largest sea caves in NZ.
Inside Orua sea cave
We'd actually visited Hot Water Beach the day before - it's one of those things you just HAVE to do when you're in the Coromandel and yet it was clear everyone else in the vicinity had the same idea too. With a 10am low tide we thought we'd just breeze over to the beach but when we got there, the beach was already pretty crowded with people who had arrived early to dig their spots and find the hot water. The hot water tends to run in veins down to the beach and there were points that were too hot to even stand on - once we finally found ourselves a good hole the boys and I enjoyed people watching. It was HILARIOUS seeing the reactions of everyone in bare feet when they hit the hot spots - you've never seen them move so fast to get off them - the funny thing was you didn't know if the next step you took would be scalding hot or cool either so it was a bit of a lottery and quite fun to watch.
Later we drove to Flaxmill Bay and had lunch at a quirky cafe called Eggsentric (and it was) near the ferry landing - we let the boys and grandparents head back over on the quick 15 minute trip while Mark and I drove the cars back around the long way (45 minutes) to meet them.
But I digress - back to the boat trip. The most amazing marine life we saw were the snapper just off Cathedral Cove whose colours shimmered all manner of turquoise in the morning light. I'm not sure I realised how beautiful snapper were - to be honest I'm just used to seeing them on my plate!
On the way back we stopped on the edge of the marine reserve and went for a swim in crystal clear water only a tiny bit deeper than us. It was a little bracing getting in that early in the morning but once you were in it was so delightful. And it made a good distraction for everyone feeling a bit green about the gills!
Zipping back across the harbour at speed in wet togs and towel was NOT so delightful - brrrr....... luckily we were able to get home relatively quickly afterwards to have warm showers and to put on some dry clothes. Once everyone was feeling less queasy and cold we all had time to reflect on what had been a truly special outing on the sea.
Look who got to drive the boat!
The property we stayed at in Whitianga was also an amazing find - a brand new dreamy designer home on the outskirts of town with fields right over the fence - yet it was a 2 minute drive to the beach and 5 minutes to town - and only $160 a night for all 6 of us. If we ever head back to Whitianga we'd stay there again in a heartbeat!
Reluctantly the next we had to pack up and head back to reality - but not before a little stop in at the Colenso Cafe for coffee - we'd stopped on our way to Whitianga in the pouring rain but it was a darn side nicer stopping in on a gloriously fine morning so we could sit outside amongst all the glorious citrus trees and reflect on a super special family time in a part of the country we'd all fallen head over heels in love with!
I'll leave with a little clip of our body boarders enjoying the magic that was Matarangi - oh to be there again in the warmth now!