We didn’t have a DJ or even any EPs with us, but David, John, Pat and I did go tramping together. After much debate, the decision was made to make the trip to the top of the Coromandel and do all the tramps proposed in the club’s original Queen’s Birthday weekend trip, despite not having Big Yellow and the Fletcher Bay campsite being closed.
The DOC website had been advising that the Coromandel Walkway was closed until 10 June, but we didn’t give up. Two days before departure, they announced it had reopened.
We made the long and exhilarating (there were a few slips to negotiate) drive (thanks, David) to Waikawau Bay and parked up.
We headed off into the damp undergrowth and encountered the first of several river crossings, which meant wet feet for all—except John, who declared his new boots “super-waterproof”.
We climbed steadily up the Matamataharakeke Track and were rewarded with stunning views at the top.
Completing the circuit, we descended to the car after a final river crossing—just a quick splash-through.
A short diversion to the beach was essential before we headed north for Stony Bay.
Instead of the original plan, John had managed to upgrade the tent accommodation to a 5-bunk bach with a sea view. It meant late nights—well, nine pm, which was a change from the usual camping bedtime in winter.
Sunday was a stunning day with clear blue skies as we headed off on the Coromandel Walkway to Fletcher Bay. This really was beautiful scenery, with views of Great Barrier and Little Barrier (unusually cloudless), and some of the Mercury Islands. The lookout above Shag Bay gave us views in every direction, as evidenced by the photo shoot required by all!
We descended into Poley Bay, where Pat went down to look at the rocky beach, before we headed to Fletcher Bay, where we had an encounter with some cows, and lunch. It was a muddy descent to the coast, not helped by the cows having churned up the ground.
The campground was pretty soggy and still closed, although some intrepid souls had erected their tent just above the beach. We ate our lunch at a thoughtfully provided picnic table, and even brewed up some tea, before heading south again.
We stopped off to explore the beach just south of Fletcher Bay and regretted the decision not to pack the togs. Yes, it was that warm, and the water felt even warmer.
To vary the route and complete a circuit, we chose the mountain-bike track for our return journey. The view out to sea was superb, but otherwise the walkway provided much more variety, if not quite such steep ups and downs.
It was a very hot group that reached the top and then had a knee-jarring descent back to Stony Bay.
On Monday we packed up and headed back over the hill to Coromandel township and our last tramp for the weekend, the Kaipawa Trig Track. This was fun to do, and more technically challenging. Although it was a cloudy day and we could see rain sweeping across the harbour from time to time, we stayed dry and enjoyed lunch at the trig.
A great weekend with stunning coastal scenery was had by all four intrepid trampers.