In search of an Africa feel in Aotearoa

Like so many of us, I am missing Africa hugely. It’s people, its wildlife and its landscape. You could say I am feeling ‘Africasick’ … homesick for Africa. 

Over Summer I decided to see if I could find a remote African bush feel, in Aotearoa! Whilst we do not have wildlife like Africa, we do have some amazing rural and remote areas.

Simba is my trusty steed. KiwiFlyer is my rooftop tent trailer – the later being completely over-engineered by an enthusiastic engineer!

Where to go?  The Coromandel of course! The Peninsula of Paradise!

What’s not to love about the Coromandel? Sunny days, sandy beaches and stunning bush!

Waikawau Bay 

Waikawau Bay was my first stop – one that I had last visited 25+ years ago.  A timely return with some good friends to see if it still held the ‘wow’ factor from all those years ago. Located on the north-eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula Waikawau campsite is nestled alongside a stunning white sand beach.

With time on my hands, I decided to take the road less travelled and introduce Simba and KiwiFlyer to some of the infamous unsealed roads of the Coromandel.  Turning off at Coromandel township I took the Kennedy Bay Road – a wonderful, windy 1 ½ hours (50km) of bush-lined road.

The days at Waikawau Bay were filled with walking, biking, relaxing and eating of course. With no dedicated bike tracks, I took to the metal roads, riding from Waikawau Bay to Stony Beach, return and Waikawau Bay to the Colville General Store for an ice-cream, as you do!

Fletcher Bay

After 5 gorgeous days at Waikawau Bay, I bid farewell to my friends and headed to Fletcher Bay, the most northern DOC campsite on the Coromandel. 

The drive from Waikawau to Fletcher is only about 43km, but it took a good hour and a half – you gotta love NZ metal roads!

Fletcher Bay is where you can walk the Coromandel Coastal Walkway, which takes in the remote northern part of the Peninsula – fondly known as the last frontier. The track connects Fletcher Bay to Stony Bay, a 20km return walk.

Starting in Fletcher Bay, crossing farmland through manuka scrub, you get views of inviting sandy beaches below. When you reach the top of a ridge you will see ahead of you the distinctive hump of the 220 meter Sugar Loaf hill, with the Sugar Loaf Rocks and Pinnacles below it, and Great Barrier Island a looming presence not far away across the sea. You’ll take a break here at the old shepherd’s.

The track certainly has its ups and downs, especially at the Fletcher Bay end, but in its entirety meanders through fields and forests, beaches and exposed cliffs, with dramatic ocean vistas. Along the way experience infinite shades of green and blue in the trees and bushes and grass and the water and sky.