Plan B: Coromandel (Day 1)

We all had a feeling it would happen, but when we saw this Monday night, our hearts still sank:

In our late-night fatigue, we decided to just sleep on it and figure out what to do in the morning.

I jumped out of bed on Tuesday and got to work on making cancellations and getting refunds on the Queenstown rental car and hostel.  Of course, I couldn’t get connected with Jetstar, the airline, to set up that refund, so we then dove into making alternative plans for the next three days. I have still really wanted to go to Coromandel, and since it is pretty close and there is tons to do and see there, I suggested it as an alternative mini-adventure.  After browsing the GOOT website and the Lonely Planet, David had constructed a full itinerary for the next three days!  All I had to do was make a few suggestions, which he seamlessly added to the agenda, and book a rental car and hostels.  We were worried it would be difficult or more expensive since it was all last minute, but I was pleasantly surprised!

After getting David his first pie—steak and cheese, which he thoroughly enjoyed—we picked up our rental car.  Not only did the car cost nz$40 cheaper than I’d anticipated, and we got an extra 16 hours free, but our it was bright green!

I love all these cool rental cars!  They add so much character to the experience 🙂

With David’s flawless planning, navigating was a heck of a lot easier!  We got to the Coromandel region in no time and our first stop was Matatoki Farm for some snacks.

The charming farm store was full of sheep dairy products

with a cafe area!

We ordered a cheese platter for two and got to tast four types of their sheep’s cheese.  Gouda, brie, bleu, and cumin seed gouda.  Of course it came with all the fixings: gourmet crackers, olives, salami (that had a bit of a stout flavor), tomato jam, grape tomatoes, and cucumber slices.

It was some of the best gouda I had ever had, and the cumin seed was a dreamlike combo!  The brie was creamy and delicious, which is only to be expected.  The blue was unlike any I had every tasted.  It was so earthy, grassy almost, and tasted like a fresh farmy cheese should.

For dessert, we simply had to try the sheep’s milk ice cream:

We chose the macadamia butter flavor, which is also local to the Coromandel region.  The texture was like a creamy cloud, and its taste was very understated, almost clean.

Before we left, we introduced ourselves to all the locals.

Alpaca, sheep, and goats.  Staring contests ensued.

Apparently someone confused the bathroom with their coop…

They laid an egg in the toilets!

This bunny loved David!

From the farm we drove to Thames, which we thought might be fun to check out while we were close.  It turns out, it wasn’t that fun.  We did check out the bird hide, apparently a good place to do some birdwatching.

We didn’t see any birds, but we did read some funny signs, such as “how many feathers has a bird?”  David read all of the signs and notices in his “old, eccentric English woman” voice.

If you know him, then I’m sure you can hear it…

We booked it out of Thames and one windy car ride later, we found our hostel in Whitianga.  Again, we were very happy with the way things turned out!  For only nz$22 each, we had a whole room to ourselves and I even got a double bed!  I am going to sleep like a queen tonight!

David and I officially have an addiction: hot pools.  David had researched another appealing day spa in town with some really nice-sounding hot mineral pools, so we spent our afternoon there.  Usually, you pay for an hour of access to the pools, but since we arrived around 5:15 and they were closing at 7, they extended our hour until closing!  We got close to two hours for the price of one!!!

The water was less alkaline than the ones at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, but the atmosphere at The Lost Spring was unforgettable!  Set in the rainforest and by a volcano (out of which a fountain flows) are two large hot pools.  But the coolest part was that one cluster of pools were designed to look like the Mud Pools in Rotorua, and another pool flowed into a cave with stalactites and glowworms!  It was so awesome.  Plus, anyone could find what they were looking for, all temperatures and depths were at your disposal!  To make it even nicer, waiters walk around to offer drinks.  I had a glass of sauvignon blanc (such a refreshing treat!) and David got a pina colada.  I was lucky to get a gulp!  Made with fresh pineapples and real coconut cream (oh yeah, and rum), it was out-of-this-world!

We had the place to ourselves for a while, and when they notified us that it was closing time, we took showers in the fancy locker rooms.  I was in heaven: waterfall showerhead, free shampoo and conditioner, and not just a hair dryer but a FLAT IRON!!!!  Of course, while I was getting dressed, the lights went off, so I picked up the pace and just gave myself a quick blow dry 😉

After the pools, we went to the grocery store to get some supplies.  We got some great deals on yoghurt, salads, Weight Watchers frozen mac’n’cheese, and muesli bars.  Perfect for sustenance to have on hand! David got a local beer he was really happy with; we might even try to hit up the brewery tomorrow!

Late Tuesday night, I finally got connected to Jetstar.  I was on hold for ages, so I made David stay on the line while I got ready for bed.  He finally got through and negotiated a full refund on our tickets!  The bad news is that it can take up to 15 days to come through, but I am crossing my fingers that it shows up before I leave NZ!

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