Coromandel, Pt. 1: Kauaeranga Valley

In Australia and New Zealand, the 25th of April is ANZAC Day. Much like Memorial Day in the US, ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance for those in the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (hence, ANZAC) who have given their lives in armed conflict.

For many, it is a time of sober reflection and remembrance. For my friends and I, it was an opportunity for a road trip! Myself, Taylor, Jordan, and our Austrian friend Lukas piled into a borrowed car and, along with plenty of camera equipment, set out around the Firth of Thames to the Coromandel Peninsula.

The Coromandel is reachable by ferry or by car, and it sits in that nice butter zone of far enough away to feel like a trip but not so far that the trip becomes tiresome. We had a full itinerary for a day trip, but our first stop was at the Kauaeranga Valley ranger station and visitor center. We checked out some maps, got some advice, and also did a small warm-up walk along the Kahikatea trail.

A kahikatea (formerly, and incorrectly, called the white pine) is a type of tree, which might give you a hint about what we might see along this walk. I also do quite love dams, as I used to work for a hydroelectric power company.

I’m no treeologist, but I think this might be a kauri, not a kahikatea.

The trail is nice, wide, and well-drained. This short stroll proved the perfect warm-up.

A very short while later, we reached a break in the trees and a sign directing us to the dam.

The guys were more interested in figuring out whether the berries of a particular plant were edible or not. I was too busy photographing to hear the verdict, but since nobody died I’m assuming they either chose correctly or cautiously decided not to eat them anyway.

Since this is what I was photographing, you can see why I would have been distracted :)

Back under tree cover, we pass by a murky, slow-moving stream.

And then…the model dam! This model dam is fully functional but not especially useful.

It’s a 1/3 scale model of a larger dam used (I believe) for logging operations. As such, the view from the top is less dizzying than it might otherwise be.

Here’s Taylor examining the mechanism and providing a sense of scale.

Taylor and Lukas climbed down to the other side of the dam, which is also dry (hence my comment that it’s not useful).

Moving on from the dam, there’s some quality stairs leading up to some nice views.

The stream does widen a bit out here, though still not exactly a raging torrent.

A break in the trees also provides a bit more scenery.

From the lookout point, we can see down to the stream and note that it’s even becoming fairly wide.

We can also see this peak, called Maori Chief. I don’t really see the resemblance, but (like North Carolina’s Pilot Mountain) weirdly-shaped mountain peaks were a boon to early explorers because they could serve as landmarks even at great distances.

So that’s the Kahikatea Walk in Kauaeranga Valley. Come back next time for some more epic Coromandel adventures! See you then!

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