We rose early, and made sure we had packed all our camera gear before taking the road back to the Cathedral Cove carpark. It was still dark, and the birds were just beginning their morning choruses, hidden in the bush. We began the walk down to the cove. As we did so, the edges of the world started to turn rosy pink, and the dimness of the early morning started fading. Our eagerness to catch the sunrise at the cove saw us half-running down the track. While the signs provide that the walk should take an hour and a half, the track is an easy walk and for the average visitor, would probably take just under an hour. We got there just before sunrise, and were spectators to the sun’s beautiful ascent out of the sea on Friday morning. It rose slowly at first, then suddenly and all at once, it was a bright and colourful new day. We were almost alone on the beach, apart from another couple and a local doing her morning yoga session. Akhil climbed the cliff above the cave for which Cathedral Cove is named, and took photos from up on the hill looking down toward the beach. We climbed up the cliff and met Akhil on the top of the hill - an awesome spot for more photography and an epic view! Coming back down the hill wasn't so beautiful, though, and I took a slide down a patch of mud and ended up dirty all over. We walked back up the track to the cars, going via a twisting green Puriri grove, and detouring to view the beautiful Stingray Bay. The walk also offers the chance to stop off at Gemstone Bay, just 5 minutes off the main track, which hosts a snorkel trail. We reached the vans, and were soon back at the holiday park. After a quick breakfast, and another quick stroll down Hahei beach, we then departed for Blue Lake in Rotorua.
The drive from Hahei to Rotorua is about 3 hours. We stopped at Paeroa, home of the famous L&P drink, to get a bite to eat and to refuel the vans. We wanted to push on to get to Rotorua, but if we had more time we could have detoured to Tauranga, or stopped off at Matamata and visited Hobbiton. We made good time, and got to Blue Lake (just south of Rotorua) by lunchtime. Blue Lake and Green Lake form part of the Tarawera District, and are beautiful picnic and visiting spots, with the lakes surrounded by green forest. Unfortunately for us, a very cold Spring wind was blowing, which put a chill on the pretty scenery. We prepared lunch, despite the wind constantly attempting to blow away our possessions. This worked in favour for the many ducks present, who greedily gobbled up any food swept off our table. Once we had finished lunch, and taken some scenic shots of the lake, we started to pack our gear away into the vans again. That’s when Morgan realised he had left some of his gear at Hahei - little over 3 hours’ drive away.
The ride back to Hahei was a little sour to begin with, and we were quiet for the first 40 minutes of the trip back. But then we started playing a game where you think of a specific object and the other person has to guess it in 20 questions or less. We had a bit of fun with that, and although we didn’t stop, the trip went by quickly enough. We got to Hahei just as it was getting dark. We searched the beach but found nothing of Morg’s missing tripod.
We were going to call it quits and take the long drive back to Taupo when I suggested we check the community notice board. We did - and there was a lost and found note for the tripod pinned to the board! It said it had been left at the Hahei store - which was now closed. We circled the building and found a telephone number. Searching it on the internet, we tracked down the shop owner’s cellphone number. We called and they said they would come and give the tripod to us. They met us a few minutes later, and they swapped the tripod with a bottle of wine we gave them in thanks for the favour. Thank goodness for small communities like Hahei, who still keenly operate their notice boards!
Tired, but now satisfied and relieved, we began the journey south to Taupo. We took turns driving through the dark. At Te Aroha, we stopped at a fish & chips store and ordered a couple of burgers. Able to relax a little, and laugh at our mistakes, we spent most of the journey chatting. It was a long day of driving, and we clocked over 500kms just in the one day. Just before Taupo, we re-fuelled the van. We then continued on to the holiday house we were to stay at, just south of 5 Mile Bay, on the shores of Lake Taupo. Arriving there exhausted, we went to bed.
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