Spine of the Fish  Day 61: making tracks

A spot of research and development before the last push. 

Coromandel Township: the Success Track, Kaipawa Trig and back

Excuse my maths – we took zero days in Coromandel AND Whitianga and I haven’t included them in the count at the start of the stories about those days.

All this maths stuff used to matter to me, but it doesn’t anymore. We’re close to the end, I’m finding it hard to keep doing all my homework and accurate accounting is just too hard. I’ve been told that I’ve been writing about 800 words a day while we’ve been walking the spine. This is quite a bit of effort! It’s often been done with one finger on a phone that’s on extreme Energy Saver Mode – a function that saves battery but shuts off my custom dictionary.

Maori, colloquialisms and my own bad, but preferred spelling, aren’t supported as I tap away into the night. Cold fingers clasping my device as the rest of me tries to snuggle in the sleeping bag. My neck aches. My eyes blur. It’s bloody hard work after a day pounding New Zealand’s least popular walking trail. Counting days correctly has just fallen off my tiny list of priorities and I figure you probably don’t give fig or wouldn’t even notice.

As I write using the luxury of Normal Power and a proper dictionary in Coromandel Town, Fiona put the last part of our expedition together. I’ve said before that the Coromandel has been a bit messy to plan.

One of the tracks we hoped to leave town on is over a mix of private, DoC and iwi or hapu land. We’ve dodged seeking permission a couple of times because we haven’t known who to contact before we came to a gate, but we don’t really want to piss people off so will contact owners when we can.

The track we wanted to take is marked on the area’s topo map, but figuring out who owned it was almost impossible. It wasn’t until Fiona ‘drove’ up to its entrance using Google Streetview that she got her first clue. As she pointed the “view” at the track she saw a sign that said ‘Kauri Run’. Another Google when we arrived in town put her on to Rita of Adventure Racing Coromandel. ARC have been holding the 32 kilometre race from Waikawau Beach to Coromandel Town for 13 years. A Kauri tree is planted with the proceeds of each competitor’s entry fee with the aim of creating a Kauri corridor between the two points. Rita forwarded our details to the relevant landowner and we were set. Just by chance the race was to be held the week after we were to walk through so our path had been groomed for us.

Coromandel town is a pretty down-to-earth place that teeters between being a tourist town and a real town. Dazed looking foreigners who’ve just arrived from Auckland International Airport mingle with the locals and the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. (Or it was when we were there as autumn’s chill hit.)

It also has an old fashioned feel about it. Locals chat on the streets and the Four Square was full of helpful smiles and humour. Across the road from where we stayed we watched a young dog take itself for walks at the start and end of each day we were there. Other dogs wandered the streets and it all seemed normal.

For three dollars, Fiona arranged to have a food parcel sent to Fletcher’s Bay at the top of the Peninsula. Three dollars for Rural Delivery seemed a bit like paying 4 cents for a pint of real milk in 1974.

The relaxed teller at the BNZ chatted as she gave Fiona the change we’d need for our stays in various DoC camps further north.

Our backpacker, The Anchor, was well run and almost empty. We relaxed in the kitchen with random young foreigners and only once had to share the awesome spa with a couple of retirees from Wisconsin.

We did deal to a few miles while we took in the cruisey vibe. A ‘new’ track has been recut that takes walkers and runners up to the trig that sits high above the town. It’s not on any GPS or topo maps yet but is a good off-road route north. It runs over an old bridle trail that was overgrown until locals recently recut it.

The trig at the top of Success Track


We laboured up the Success Track’s 500 metre climb then dragged ourselves back into town on day two of our stay. Depressingly it took an hour and a half to walk the fifty minute track to the trig. For some reason I find it hard to access my reserves after a rest day. Perhaps it’s just my body suggesting I go home?

The Success Track


As we walked the two hour journey down, then back through town, school came out and happy kids soon joined the relaxed main street throngs. While Fiona photocopied maps and fossicked in the op shop and library, I sat in the sun and watched Coromandel go about its business.

Small town New Zealand life looked pretty good. As we imagined our journey north over our last few days, we looked forward to the towns getting smaller.

Coromandel House

Wilderlife