After diving diving in Tutukaka, we took a bus back to Auckland, picked up a rental car, and drove towards Hahei. We lost 1.5h due to having to swap rental cars (the one we got in Auckland didn't have a trunk that could fit our luggage), and then we got stuck by an accident on the freeway out. Nonetheless we made it to hot water beach a bit late, but still in time to appreciate the hot water coming out of the sand which you could use to make your own hot pools given the right mix with cold water (the hot water on its own is scalding).
Next, we hiked to cathedral cove, a nice beach and cove that is usually filled with people but because we went there late (20:00), it was quite nice and quiet. The relative low tide also allowed us to cross the cove without getting our shoes wet (the next day, you had to swim across):
we stayed until the tide started coming back up and giving us some cold water to mix with the scalding hot water in our pool
oyster catcher birds
there was also a waterfall, nice...
The next morning, we enjoyed a nice breakfast before going to the beach for our kayak tour:
we then hiked back to our car and got to our B&B
interesting rock formation
cathedral cove see from the sea
this is where we crossed on foot the previous evening :)
looks like running around that corner to avoid the water wasn't going to work this time :)
After the kayak ride which was fun and scenic, there didn't seem to be much to do besides staying on the beach which isn't much what we enjoy doing :) so my hiking book recommended the Karangahake Gorge and its Windows Walk. It's a very scenic place which mostly made up for the unfortunate 3H it took to drive all the way there and back (with a detour via Waihi). In hindsight, we should have stayed in Waihi the 2nd night or actually gone all the way to Rotorua to be onsite for the next day.
Anyway, Karangahake Gorge was very pretty, unfortunately windows walk was closed in the tunnel, preventing us from doing the full loop and wasting some of our time while we figured out where we could go and where exactly the track was closed (inside a mining tunnel turns out, so when your loop is almost over, you have to turn back and do it all again in reverse).
From there, it was too late to go to Waihi Beach before Orokawa Beach Track, so we went to the later directly. WE just happened to be driving by another mining town along the way, and they had an open mine you could look at:
For Orokawa Beach, you had to park somewhere obscure and hike 30-45mn to the beach:
nice place for dinner
I went for a swim, but it was kind of dicey with all the rocks
having a fresh shower afterwards was nice :)
I did apply sunscreen almost everywhere :)
we then had to hike back up
From there, we had to drive back to Hahei which was a bit tedious. The mountain roads at night would have taken almost 2h for the average driver. Google gave me an optimistic 1h25 (it uses the speed limit without knowing that you can't typically drive 100kph on curvy mountain roads). Thankfully mountain roads are my bread and butter, so I did it in 1h15 :) .