a ferry let me avoid Aucklands traffic and the stretch via Miranda and Thames and started me off 10km south of Coromandel town. Gold was discovered here in 1852 and you can still visit some of the mines. Via Colville I continued north into a dead end: Fletcher Bay. Very isolated area and many pohutukawa trees along turquoise waters. I missed the rugby game and only heard the score when I came back to civilization next lunch time. The day after I saw the full game in thousands of pictures printed in newspapers.
309 road is a bit rugged but well worth the effort, an amazing forest. Whitianga was for me just a place to buy some food and a small passenger ferry gets you and your bike across the bay to continue to cathedral cove and hot water beach, where you dig a hole in the sand and let it get filled with hot (yes indeed very hot) water that is streaming just beneath the surface. Next day a hilly stretch along the coast and after that a visit to Waihi, the old and still active gold mining town. On former rail tracks and through a long and narrow tunnel to Paeroa, the P in L&P, worldfamous in New Zealand. Via Te Aroha and Matamata, known as Hobbiton to the steaming and smelly Rotorua, where I knew a little bit outside a nice camp site with a swimming pool and a hot pot. Next day was a very wet day down to the coast again via Awakeri and Whakatane (known as the capital of sunshine) to Opotiki, where quite a few young people work on a Kiwi farm as work&travel tourists. The minimum wage seems to be about 14,70NZ$. East of Opotiki I had to cycle 70km to get a coffee, and after 160km on a very windy day with many hills and quite a few new impressions I arrived in Te Araroa.
Next day brought a very irregular and strong headwind, but I made it to Tolaga Bay just before some serious rain started. A 600m long wharf enabled ships to land in that shallow bay. Further via Gisborne to Morerere hot springs, where you walk a few minutes through a rain forrest to arrive at a small bathing house with a cold, warm and very hot pool.