Coromandel & Driving Creek Railway

This is one of a series of stories written for us by UK based customers Glynis and Graham, following their travels around New Zealand last Summer.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do...

When we arrived we found a lovely 2 bedroomed house which we knew we had booked and could have shared. It was the first place we booked so we would have a restful, beach mini holiday at the end and we had not really realised we were booking such a large place, but to be honest we love the space and just revel in all the room after some of the small studios we have stayed in over the last seven (!) today, weeks. There are also two sitting rooms and two loos as well as the kitchen, laundry and shower. in front there is a big wooden sun deck looking out over the bay and behind there is another deck with the garden going up to heaven I suspect although it's a bit of a wilderness so we haven't bothered to explore as we don't need to find out. Now i have written that I feel I should really put on long trousers and my walking boots and go and see.

IMG 3397

On the first evening we walked up the road to see what was there. In my ignorance I thought it was the top of the coromandel peninsular! Duh! It is in fact just the Wyuna peninsular which is a small but perfectly formed volcano crater as you can see when you get to the trig point along the road and can see the sea on both sides.

Birds and butterflies are everywhere. We can hear the Tuis during the day and at night the Moreporks; owls that call "more pork" at each other. We saw one silhouetted on the tree branch just above our heads over the front deck on the first night before it flew off looking very owly. It was very loud at close quarters!

3DA19E8D 8F29 4113 9AB1 176306F5C1AC

Yesterday we spent all afternoon here with Jess and Sonny and then we went into town and had dinner and they went home as they both had things to do today. We had found the little path down to the beach and it was just us there. The water was warm and calm.

It's a shame we didn't know about the Driving Creek Railway yesterday because we found that today. I think they would have loved it. We did.

We decided not to go far today. We woke up because the alarm was set from last Monday when we had to go up the 90 mile beach and so leave early!! We groaned, checked the time then we went back to sleep.

Fitfully, however, as we also expected the plumber to turn up as I forgot to say the kitchen cold tap is currently worked by pliers. It was like it when we arrived, nothing we did. So we were sort of on alert for him coming even though he didn't in the end. As it was we got to midday and decided to go and look at the Driving Creek Railway just the other side of town, so within about 3-4 miles. When we got there the next train was going in 25 minutes so we watched the film (as usual) so we would know what it was all about and it turned out not to be a hobbity type entertainment for children but a properly ethical enterprise based on one man's passions and enthusiasms.

B763661A 59DB 4B97 B1C4 25EE22BCF04E 

It was wonderful. A narrow gauge railway that this man built to go into the mountains for a number of very worthwhile and wholesome reasons to do with his fascination with railway engineering, pottery, education and conservation. It was a glorious amalgam of all those things. It was just a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. Potters now come from all over the world to work on short term projects and the workshop is all railway engineering bits and kilns.

D2EDFF56 11AA 412A BA87 0EB18AF92485

It has brought employment and life to the area. He bought it as one small bare plot devoid of native tree life and it has metamorphosed into something far bigger than he could ever have envisaged. See internet for details. Plus it was fun going through the bush and up steep inclines in ingenious ways. Along the way, over the years, a lot of other people have been drawn in and it has grown and developed. They had met a number of challenges to problem solve and now it brings in loads of tourists which was never the intention but which means it is self sustaining. There is a half hour trip through bush and pottery to arrive at the high viewing platform point of the Eyeful Tower, (they are forgiven!) from where you get to see the surrounding bays and mountains. We could see the shape of our little peninsular very clearly from there.

DB3606E6 CFB6 4FF9 BD90 AC4717884B63

The instigator is 79, a teacher who gave up teaching after 2 terms and who then dedicated his life to this project. He has bequeathed this whole thing to the nation so now it belongs to the NZ National Trust and he no longer does the heavy work but potters (geddit?) about on it still, keeping busy! And you can tell the people there adore him!

We came out of the DCR and turned right, not left. Because we did that we ended up going over and round the tortuous coastal road from West to East which meets up with the pacific. This road is long, steep, winding and mostly, un tarred. Interestingly it usually was tarred either side of the single lane bridges. probably to help people stop, that grit is not conducive to quick braking! We had not realised just how remote it was until quite a long way in by which time we were committed to the circuit. As there is just the one road going NW they don't bother much with road signage. All the way round we kept wondering exactly where we had got to as nowhere was marked! However, it was spectacular. At one high point we could see both coasts which was like flying again. Then we drove along the pacific seaboard again for a good way. We passed no one and no houses for a very long time. For us, that is really hard to credit as we live on such a tiny crowded island in the UK. Even when habitation began to appear the evidence was usually just the mailbox outside and the house itself was invisible. Eventually the land began to be cleared, for dairy as Graham is so fond of pointing out, and we knew we must be getting closer to people.

There were two T junctions along this route and we knew they were somewhere out there so we kept driving on the stoney roads, round the steep precipitous hair bends, hoping there were no logging lorries!  If we had picked the wrong direction we would have been on the road out to the far north coast and would have had to retrace our steps. Eventually we joined the dots and got back to the town we had actually been making for, about 20kms up the coast from here. But we did it the long way round. What we had planned as a short excursion up the road, turned into a two hour round, literally, trip. We felt we had achieved something though as we would probably have not done it if we had been planning the day knowing how much of that journey was on, what they call, white roads.

When we got back the plumber still hadn't been and the agent said it was because they had to bring in the part from outside as they don't stock it locally.

Of course not! Just like everywhere!

Given that, we expect to be using the pliers to access cold water for the rest of our stay. Quite novel. Graham is always saying he should bring a tool bag when we go away anywhere.....         

Related posts you may like:

 The 4 day Tongariro Northern Circuit - A Kiwi Moon Landing

On the final day of summer holidays, I almost died... Matapouri, Northland, NZ

Fun and friendship in Northland, a backpacker's story

Auckland - Summer 2014 - Our Journey Journal