Whitianga is a seaside town tucked into a deep bay protected by small rocky islands. It’s the perfect place to wander along the waterfront enjoying the serenity. It’s only about 21’C but feels almost summery as we explore the beach.
A little over an hour later we drive south to check out the strip of beaches from Ferry Landing to Hot Water Beach. It will take the whole afternoon because the scenery is so captivating. And not just the beaches themselves, the farmland is a green as anywhere we’ve been.
Flaxmill Bay is our first stop.
We drive to the top of Shakespeare Cliff from which the views are second to none. A tour boat races by. Even from here we can hear the squeals of joy from the passengers as it does donuts acrossnthe water.
We stop for lunch at a pretty riverside park at Cooks Beach. The township is so named because Captain James Cook took his readings of Mercury here to determine the location of New Zealand relative to the rest of the world, as it was known in the 1770s. He also had the Endeavour cleaned by beaching it here. There’s not much to buy for lunch so we eat crackers and dip from the local dairy (convenience store). But it sure is pretty.
Hahei Beach is by far the most popular with surfers and swimmers. It is less protected today than others so has a better swell. Rocky islands and outcrops still dot the entrance to this wide bay but not as much as at the other beaches. The famous Cathedral Cave is nearby but the walking path is closed due to storm damage. The only way to see the cave right now is by boat or kayak so we’ll come back another time.
Finally we get to Hot Water Beach. The tide wasn’t correct for us to dig a hot water spa in the sand but the beach and drive were pretty.
We enjoy another dinner at the Whitianga Hotel and chat with a local couple who share our table. A trip to the movies follows and we enjoy the British flick Their Finest . It’s a brilliant little film that keeps us entertained.