In New Zealand you can go anywhere barefoot. The store, a restaurant--every place has the potential privilege of your bare feet. There is no city where this opportunity is so tempting as Whangamata. Part of the Coromandel Peninsula, its beaches are comprised of downy sand and its shoreline, dotted with majestic islands, is and home to seals and sting rays. Characteristic of a slightly sleepy beach town, the world moves slower. Stores open on a sliding scale, sometimes 8am, sometimes 8:15. No one is in a rush.
Erika's flatmate was generous enough to offer his families batch for us to stay in, just a short walk from the beach and the main drag. While we only spent two days there, it was the perfect amount of relaxing and adventure.
The unparalleled highlight of the trip was sea-kayaking to Donut or Whenuakura Island. We departed an hour before sunset when the tide was high and the winds were rough. You're not allowed out on the water with a rental company if the wind is 12 knots or higher--we left with the wind at 10 knots.
Kayaking on the sea is unlike kayaking on Fallen Leaf Lake--the waves loll beneath you and you rise and fall as if riding the belly of great dragon--plummeting 10 feet with every exhalation, rising with every breath.
In order to enter Whenuakura Island you have to slide through a narrow gap in the cliff face. With the tides at their highest the journey inside feels more perilous. As the waves undulate you veer closer and closer to the walls of the cave. Once inside, you're surrounded by birds, jungle and serene, turquoise water. We rented our kayaks for 2 hours so after exploring the depths of Donut Island we headed to Clark or Hauturu Island to hike to the peak and watch the sunset. Although there wasn't really a "peak" or a place to watch the skies change, the hike itself was entertaining--very steep and viney à laJungle Book.
Must See in Whangamata: