We had planned a slightly easy day today but it ended up being relatively hectic.
We reluctantly departed Jacaranda Lodge shortly after 9:00 for the relatively short drive to Whitianga, intending to visit a few sights along the way.
First stop from the Lonely planet guide was “New Chums Beach” which Lonely Planet guide describes as “one of the most beautiful in the country due, in part, to its complete lack of development” (Indeed the beach was voted one of the top 20 in the world in 2006). I can testify to both points. The beach is one of the main attractions in Whangapoua which itself is about 15 minutes off the main highway SH25. It’s not an easy beach to get to (which is part of the appeal) as it involves a scramble around the main beach across some rocks and then down a narrow track. Buts its worth it. If you have an idyllic vision of the perfect tropical beach then this is surely it. A perfect crescent, backed by tropical greenery, pressed up against golden sands which are washed by turquoise waters. Indeed it seems that every day New Zealand offers something more spectacular than the last.
Having spent longer than intended on the beach we then headed straight for Whitianga avoiding any further diversions along the way as we wanted to take a boat ride in the afternoon. We arrived in Whitianga around midday and booked ourselves onto a 2 hour coastal tour with Ocean Leopard who promises “You’ll venture across the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and get up close and personal with towering pinnacles, giant blowholes and sea caves – even entering the exciting Orua Sea Cave if conditions allow!” It’s a decent enough tour although it was pretty windy and therefore cold despite the fantastic sunshine.
After that we made our way back up the coast to check into our one-night stay at Kuaotunu Bay Lodge which has spectacular (if expensive) views across the bay. I will admit that although the views are incredible its not the ideal location as Kuaotunu does not have any of its own infrastructure so eating out in the evening means a 20 minute trek back into Whitianga. Ah well you live and learn!
So we did head back to Whitianga in the evening to a little Bistro called the Bay Brewery Bistro run by an English guy who brews his own (rather excellent) beer on the premises. Well worth a visit. Quite small so bookings are really recommended.