[above – Hot Water Beach, Coromandel] This peninsula is near enough to Auckland to be explored from there by boat or or by car (a couple of hours drive). The main attraction were the beaches which since we had turned up on a bank holiday weekend we had little patience to queue to get on. However, we managed to get on Hot Water Beach and saw the crowds rushing to dig up the sand to expose the hot mineral waters bubbling up from the ground. It was more interesting to see the mahem caused by the hundreds fighting over a few square metres of hot sand …

I suspect on a quiet weekday it would have made a good day out but on this weekend, it wasn’t the place to be. The antics on the beach reflected the chaos we found in most of the parking spots we managed to find. We didn’t exactly ‘write off’ Coromandel but we thought it easier to keep on driving looking at beaches and forests from the air conditioned car.