Driving Coromandel and Cathedral Cove

How to Create Terrible Driving Conditions

Step 1: Exhaustedly get off a flight that crosses the international date line.

Step2: Get to New Zealand, pick up your rental car and realize the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car and people are driving on the wrong side of the road.

Thank god one of my stipulations of renting the car was that I would have to drive it as infrequently as possible. Aracely doesn’t have her drivers license. Sorry Mark.

We had also agreed to make this a real old fashioned road trip, and since road trips existed before GPS, we figured, “we can do this!” with only road maps until we tried to get to our hostel and realized that streets were named one thing on the right hand side and another on the left. FML.

The next day, with Mark bravely at the helm of the car, we headed out to Coromandel and Cathedral Cove at the suggestion of Rummage who had sent us a lengthy email delineating why New Zealand was his favorite place. Aside from a few mishaps during which we turned onto the wrong side of the street, went down a street in the wrong direction, mistook the pass lane for the slow lane, had trouble engaging the rules of roundabouts, a few wrong turns, and reading a few signs wrong the 2 hour trip to Coromandel was fairly uneventful. Until we got to the coastal road that was necessary to reach the peninsula.

Thank god or whatever diety that I was NOT driving. As a passenger, I enjoyed my first views of the beautiful blue green waters of New Zealand which may even surpass the waters of Tahiti. The water was the exact color a child drawing a utopic image of a beach would use – it was a perfect turquoise that I had never seen before (a description which I find myself constantly using since this trip started). The road wound around the coast between the shore and the mountains, and it was 45 minutes of sheer natural beauty. Unless you were driving. In which case it was 45 minutes of hugging the outside of a coastal cliff in which one too wide turn would send your car flipping over the edge (no guardrails) onto a beach if you were lucky, into the bay if you weren’t. And if you turned too narrow you would smash into a truck or campervan coming along the inside of one lane roads. Again, thankfully I wasn’t in Mark’s position.

Shortly after a white knuckled ride, that did allow us a stop at a seafood shack where we enjoyed fresh shucked oysters – we arrived in the cute little town of Coromandel where we checked into our hotel, and immediately set off for Cathedral Cove.

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Still operating on the system of “we’re only reading a map” we got back in the car and headed over to the beach. Which involved another insane ascent up winding mountain roads – but once again, as a passenger I noticed nothing but the beautiful scenery and slight motion sickness. I’d only been in New Zealand 2 days and I could say with conviction that the natural scenery is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen – and like any good beautiful woman, New Zealand was aware of its beauty and offered tons of scenic lookout points at which we frequently stopped to take pictures.

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By the time we got to Cathedral Cove it was late afternoon and the day was rather overcast for a day we had allotted for the beach, but fuck it we were there so we were going to make the most of it. By the time we started the 45 minute trail to descend from the parking lot to the beach it was starting to mist. But trusting Rummage, we assumed the views would be beautiful and worth it so we continued on and eventually after passing, hills, sheep, forests, and other assorted natural things we made it to the cove.

Holy shit it was beautiful. The beach we entered onto was partially empty as it had started raining and we had passed a lot of people heading back on the way there . The rock formations which were formed as the result of past volcanic activity jutted out of the water in what were once natural bridges that had long since been eroded or collapsed into the sea. On one side there was also a cove (hence “Cathedral Cove”) which passed onto another pristine beach where people were kayaking.


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Despite the fact that it was raining we took a bunch of pictures and since I never knew if I’d be here again – I dove into the ocean with my waterproof iPhone to

a) at least say that  I went swimming even if it was in the rain

b) get some pictures of the area from different angles.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Even in the rain the water was incredibly warm and calm and the sand felt like silk between my toes. I got some great pictures of the rock formations and a bit later I headed back to the beach to show my friends my awesome pictures. And then my phone wouldn’t respond to touches, and then went blank. And then I looked at the top port where I had plugged my headphones in earlier and realized I had forgotten to replace the waterproof plug. I fucking suck.

Trying my best not to throw a tempter tantrum, since as any one who knows me knows, I fucking live on my iPhone, we stayed at the beach for a little while longer and then headed back to town so I could try the ancient Chinese secret of dropping my phone in a bag of rice in hopes that it would dry it out. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t work)

That night trying to drown my sorrows we headed to a good dinner where we ate some delicious green lip New Zealand mussels and made friends with our waiter. Which was a smart idea beacause he ended up inviting us to go out to a deserted island with him the next day on his boat. Which is not at all how any horror movie has ever started.

Walking back home, sadly remembering my iPhone I looked up at the sky hoping to see the north star so I could do the whole Jimminy Cricket thing and wish upon a star for my phone to start working again. When I looked up I was astounded to see a sky full of stars and a night so dark and clear that I could actually see the Milky Way. First time ever. Actually one of my first times ever being able to see more than a handfull of stars at any given place. Beautiful scenery, but obviously my iPhone wishes did not come true.  I went back to the hotel, cracked open my “forget I broke my lifeline” bottle of wine and made friends with some friendly Czechs who as it turned out I would be rooming with in the hostel.

RIP iPhone. Beloved friend, camera, instagram outlet and email recipient. You will be forever in my heart.

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5 thoughts on “Driving Coromandel and Cathedral Cove

  1. I actually grew up in a place that was so rural you could really see the stars–I always considered seeing the milky way the “median point” on whether or not you are actually looking at a sky full of stars or not. Glad you were able to see the milky way! I wonder–did you know what it was straight away? I feel like if you’ve never seen it, it wouldn’t really be obvious straight away as to what it is.

    Sorry to hear about the iPhone! I think I’d be all beat up if mine were destroyed too.

    1. I saw it at first and was like…why is the sky so cloudy looking because I’m an idiot New Yorker haha So beautiful though, I spent a lot of time staring at the stars while in New Zealand. I guess I’ll learn to live without the phone – also I saw your thing on FB about the ambassador to Australia – good luck!!

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