Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tour of Coromandel

It doesn't take long to walk around the town of Coromandel - cafes, souvenir shops, pub, bottle store, excellent general store, dairy... At one end there are some jetties sticking out through the mangrove swamps, on one side a hill that's pierced by a mysterious tunnel, unlabelled and open that goes much further in than I cared to. The opposite side of town has the school and sports ground, and then there's the northern end, leading to all the scenic glories that we just spent the last week lapping up on our Tour de Coromandel, all 110km of it.
But before you head up to the fabulous Pohutukawa Coast, it's worth branching off to Driving Creek, where the recently-late Barry Brickell established his pottery and narrow-gauge railway zig-zagging up the hill through the bush to his Eyefull Tower. The whole place is full of jokes and quirkiness, but it's the railway that everyone enjoys most, diving through tunnels and over viaducts, switchbacking up the hill past wine-bottle retaining walls, ferny lushness, waterwheels and BB's grave.
At the top is of course a wide view over the Hauraki Gulf, all sea and sky, clouds and islands, over bush where, at night, you can hear kiwi calling. It's all a pretty impressive gift to have left us.
It's a longish walk from town though, even when you stop at the cute and endearingly idiosyncratic Museum of Mining on the way, so what better reward than a local mussel pie in the sunshine, while you wait for the bus to the ferry back home?

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