Coromandel Peninsula: Pauanui

Paddling and Pedalling in Pauanui

On our second visit, to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, Guy and I were staying with a work friend of mine in the holiday town of Pauanui. Sitting on the east coast at the mouth of the Tairua River, Big Paua (as it’s known in Maori) is an Aucklander’s holiday home haven with the summer population exploding as everyone gets out of the city over Christmas. Luckily we were visiting in April so the rush had died down, and the weather was still glorious.

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Arriving on Friday night to the Bach, this was a real kiwi holiday home, resembling a chalet style bungalow and still with much of its seventies décor, but the perfect location for an escape from the city.

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First thing Saturday we were up and off to the beach, just five minutes away, hoping for a surf or a paddleboard. Unfortunately the waves were somewhere in between the two options, but we spotted some paddle boarder’s already out there so decided to give that a go. After returning to get our boards we headed back to the beach and intrepidly waded in. We paddled out on our knees which proved an excellent core workout, it was tough going as the large floaty boards wanted to catch every wave we paddled over back in! Still, we eventually made it out the back to the calmer water where we hopped up and headed off down the bay. It was beautiful weather and stunning scenery so couldn’t complain, even better was the random large swells that were rolling through and knocking us off now and again, I’d find myself laughing at Guy who had just been wiped out and then find myself in the water too! We decided to try surfing some of the waves stand up paddle board style which resulted in much hilarity too. You’re meant to stand sideways like you would on a surf board but every time we caught a wave the board was whipped out from under our feet creating some great wipe outs! We gave up standing after a while, and found riding in on our knees was much more successful, certainly a good wake up being slapped in the face by the sea!

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Back on dry land we enjoyed breakfast on the front deck of the bach, before taking out the bikes for a pedal powered tour of town. It’s a fairly purpose built holiday town but really pretty, we headed along the stretch of white sands down to the river mouth. The water was crystal clear and still, and we felt we might have been more successful paddle boarding here instead! Still, the views up the river were stunning, all the way into the surrounding hills and forest. On the way back we headed through the houses past an entertaining little street named “Just In Time” all the houses along this road were also time related with some favourites being “Just Back in Time” and “Just Vino Time”! Next we came across the Pauanui air strip, right in the middle of town it’s only for smaller planes, most of the houses that back onto the airstrip had built in hangars as their ground floor which was pretty nuts!

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After lunch and a beer in the sun we headed off on foot back to the beach and to the southern headland, which rises into a forest covered hill. We skirted the path on the edge of the hill out around the headland to the misleadingly named, Flat Rock. Columns of volcanic rock bubbling around, with a shelf perfect for fishing off, pretty awesome for rock hopping and crashing waves.

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The sun was just getting lower creating amazing light across the beach and sea so we sat and enjoyed the scenery, before heading back inland and strolling along the beach dipping our toes in the sea to end our day.

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The following day we had a relaxed day of activities, tennis in the morning until the rain came, and lunch at the local fish and chip shop which did not disappoint! Once the rain had stopped we bravely headed out again, back on the bikes, to the waterways development. This took us along the banks of the Tairua River and along boardwalks through the marshland. The waterways is the Miami of Pauanui, the houses are oversized and all back out onto a palm shaped marina. Perfect for those with enough dollar for a boat at the bottom of the garden, we even spotted a couple of helicopters in the back yards! All very flash, but homely? Perhaps not. On our return to the bach we just about dodged another shower, and even had time for a quick couple of rounds of Boules, before heading the couple of hours back to Auckland.

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