Saturday, 21 April 2012

Anchors Away

We've been staying a few days in the township of Whitianga which is on the eastern coast of New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula.

In the summer it is humming with activity but at this time of year the season is over, the weather is generally more settled and there are accommodation bargains to be had; at least that's the theory.

Our motel is the Anchorage at the Esplanade end of the main town waterfront - Buffalo Beach.  The buffalo referred to has got nothing to do with rampaging woolly animals.  It is the name of a British ship that wrecked itself on the shore in the mid 1800's.
At the local museum
The Anchorage motel's name is no doubt drawn from its geographical location and the odd assortment of discarded fishing buoys and flotsam that festoons the garden.  It is a time warp of New Zealand construction with an interior reminiscent of a typical seaside motel of the 1950's and 60's. The shower mixer tap is undoubtedly an original as wear and tear has made it virtually impossible to read the temperature markings.

Anchorage Motel Mixer
While clean, it is in serious need of refurbishment, there is no Sky television channels to occupy the day during inclement weather and the wardrobe door can only be opened partially, as the placement of the double bed prevents any further leverage.

On the plus side, the owners are very accommodating and the coffee sachets are replaced regularly.

I had not visited Whitianga before as all of my previous Coromandel visits had been on the western coast either in or further north of Coromandel Township.

The local Whitianga Museum is worth a visit and the displays are well done with explanation of the district's history which include the first visit to these shores by the great Polynesian navigator Kupe and centuries later, Captain Cook.  Cook's sitings of the transit of the planet Mercury give their name to Mercury Bay on which Whitianga is sited.

A quick $5 return journey on the local ferry is worth the money landing at the oldest stone wharf in Australasia.  There are some quick and easy bush and scenic walks to be had and over the hill is the lovely panorama of Flaxmill Bay.

Flaxmill Bay
Whitianga's current claim to fame is commercial and recreational fishing and catching the right tide is a favourite occupation among residents and visitors alike.

At this time of year the place is sleepy, which is just the way we like it. The locals are friendly and the small Bay Bakery at 34 Monk Street, nearest the Esplanade, creates some of the best value for money sandwiches I have purchased when travelling.

Catching the Incoming Tide

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