Opito Bay and a Bach
So what does a quintessential kiwi holiday entail? Friends and family gathering at a holiday home, called a bach (pronounced batch) for a few days for some sun, sand and spirits.
Andrew’s parents arrived in Auckland a couple of weeks ago and to kick off their holiday we all took a 4 day, 3 night trip to Opito Bay in Coromandel. Opito Bay is a tiny bay off the eastern bit of Coromandel Peninsula and as far north as people inhabit the peninsula. A co-worker recommended the locale and my guide books description just reinforced my desire to go saying that “just when you think you’re about to fall off the end of the earth, the [pavement] starts again and you reach Opito”. Opito Bay is tiny, only 250 smallish properties, of which over 230 are holiday homes or rentals. Andrew and I tried to decifer the poorly framed and lighted pictures and lackluster descriptions of baches at the Bach Care website and picked a place. Paid upfront including a deposit, our fingers and toes were crossed that we picked a good one and we picked up Andrew’s parents from the airport.
After a day of rest for his folks after the long flight from the States and one more work day for Andrew and I, we hit the road. Well, after several discussions of what we need to bring, as baches typically don’t include things like linens. Nearing lunchtime, we finally got the car packed, stopped for breakfast at Dida’s, a local cafe chain that is pretty darn tasty, and filled up the gas tank. Andrew and I had made the trip to Coromandel for horseback riding, and then to Cathedral Cove so we were pretty familiar with the roads up through Coromandel. At one scenic view point I even saw my first wild boar! (Granted it was dead and decomposing slightly…) Once we got to Whitianga, the closest town to Opito Bay with a grocery store, we stopped and picked up some sustenance and ventured into unknown territory. Sure enough, the roads were windy, and they got more windy as we neared the bay. The road seal stopped, meaning the path was unpaved for a solid ten to fifteen minutes along the cliff edges of some large hills / small mountains and then, like my guidebook said, the pavement started again. We passed Otama Beach, then ran into Opito Bay. We drove until the road just about ended and finally landed at our bach for the weekend. And what a bach it was! Beautiful sea views, had all the cooking appliances and utensils we needed, plus some board games too. Other than the grill which was a bit of a disappointment and the cockroaches (can’t win them all) the places was perfect for us. We settled in, cooked some lamb chops, had some wine, bourban and beer and just enjoyed the bay.
The following day we didn’t do anything. We had a very relaxing day lounging around, did a little hiking (yup, short hikes now fall into the relaxing category), meandered up and down the beach and then even drove to town (Whitianga) so we didn’t have to cook dinner. It was a beautiful day to just enjoy the company of those around us and take in Opito Bay. A short walk to the end of the bay and up a rather steep hill which was a perfect spot for many a gorgeous photo! We saw all sorts of friendly birds, several of which were protected species in the area. All in all, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the bach experience!
But let’s not forget our out of town guests haven’t seen as much of New Zealand! And I’m always seeking out a new adventure too! We took off the next morning to Road 309. You may remember Andrew and I ventured a ride back in my Coromandel Post when we went with Kathy and Jed. The beautiful, yet windy, bush road goes past the Kauri grove that was closed last round about. This time, the path was repaired and we stopped to find the largest Kauri tree in New Zealand (by volume). A fairly short, yet cool bush walk through the forest and we found the Kauri tree in question. Regrettably, foresters have cut down nearly all of the Kauri trees at one point, and only a few old tree’s remain. Now protected, it was fascinating to see the fallen bark from the tree, thick as my hand, and nearly as tough as a sheet of metal! Talk about an impressive tree! We continued on from the Kauri grove onto Waiau falls and ran into some pigs on the side of the road. We stopped to grab some photos and Andrew’s mom got out to snag a couple of close-ups of some piglets. Before she could snap a good one, the mom pig stormed over to see what was going on and Andrew’s mom hopped back in the car where we got back on our way to Coromandel Town where we stopped for lunch. Coromandel town was a fun pit stop, but in my opinion, wasn’t so out of the ordinary. A pass through suited just fine and the world class potter whose studio resides in town was similarly unremarkable.
We did stop at a cool art store and I picked up some postcards for my siblings I think they’d like. Local art stores are like free museums. I get to enjoy the local art, but since I couldn’t afford anything, there is no threat of me buying anything. The drive on the main highway 25 had stunning views and after a while down the road, we decided on another pit stop.
We stopped at Whangapoua, grabbed some ice cream and agreed to set out to New Chum’s Beach. Regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, we were (okay, let’s be honest, I was) curious. Despite a brief mention in my guidebook, the harrowing path to the beach, which may be why it is so reclusive, was understated. Following a rocky coast between a steep hill and a beach, while achievable for almost all persons, it sure wasn’t easy. As the tide came in, the path to the beach narrowed. A good 30 minutes, a minor injury and high expectations later, the most beautiful beach in the country? Perhaps. I suppose. Ummm. While only a handful of people remained at the beach at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, we’d seen Karekare beach more deserted. The beach was beautiful, and no house, baches or other establishments in sight made for a unique beach experience. I’d rate the path to New Chum’s as worth a visit, but the beach itself as simply that, a beach.
After a final night being lulled to sleep by the waves crashing upon the beach, we sadly packed up our things to head home. We stopped at Cathedral Cove to share the cool rock formations, walk and beach with Andrew’s folks and made it back to Auckland safely.
The perfect combination of relaxation and adventure, I count myself a big fan of the kiwi holiday tradition of the summer bach getaway.