But, forgot about these
By Stan Stewart
Highway 25A has gone. Capitalising on our roading woes!
Working on the principle that, “when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade,” I worked out how the loss of Highway 25A and the increased distance between Auckland and Whitianga could work to the visitors' and our advantage. Because of this plan their numbers in our area could increase, not decrease. Brilliant!
Here was my plan: We (the Coromandel in general and Whitianga in particular) compensate for the loss of State Highway 25A (closed indefinitely) by promoting a longer route that will attract even more visitors and tourists to our region.
The proposal being that they travel through Thames along the coast road to Coromandel town, and then, to Whititanga, using either the 309 or by continuing on State Highway 25. To promote this route we draw attention to the seldom mentioned fact that this is one of the most scenic routes in the country (my guess – in the world). ‘Breathtaking’ is the word used to describe it in one small leaflet. That is not an over-statement.
The Selling Spiel: We acknowledge that travelling to Whitianga by this route is longer by 90 minutes than the previous journey taken across the now defunct state Highway 25A. However, we assert that the traveller will be dazzled and enchanted by unmatched coastal scenery and fascinating historic stop-offs. The result is that the traveller will arrive in Whitianga stimulated and thankful for the beauty and the interest of this route.
About 40% of this journey winds around the bays. For this part, travelling is a narrow, two lane road. In places, the water of the Pacific Ocean are only metres away. Consequently, drivers must concentrate. The slightest inattention could land your vehicle in the sparkling waters.
A word of explanation: This journey was made on a Sunday. There were few other vehicles on the road. We did not encounter one truck.
The Problem: Residents of this area tell us that it is a vastly different story on the Monday to Friday days in the week. Logging trucks and other large vehicles constantly use this route. No doubt the truck drivers are skilled and experienced. They know this highway and drive with confidence. But, intrepid travellers like us, can find their presence intimidating and at times annoying. When this happens, the scenery is forgotten and there can be tensions for drivers and passengers; “So what, that this is a beautiful drive! We want to get there sometime (when behind a slow truck) and arrive alive”(when facing fast moving on-coming trucks
Nonetheless: I stand by my ‘guns’, when I assert this is one of the most beautiful drives in the country. However, I am clear that on most days the holiday motorist will not have the route to themselves. So you have to be prepared for this. This trip may take longer than anticipated. Be prepared to pull over when that is possible, or, make the journey as we did, on a Sunday.
Blurb on the Fabulous Journey: I have always enjoyed historic Thames. Ther eis so much to see and do ther ebut that’s the subject of more good news in later issues. After Thames, every few kilometres, there is a new bay and with each bay there is a little village with colourful and quaint houses. Along the way, there are the small settlements of Te Puru, Waiomu and Tapu. All of them have inviting beaches for swimming or walking. Coffee and ice-cream are on offer from old style general stores. My point here is don’t hurry – pause, enjoy and refresh. Coromandel town is like driving into history. Take a short walk and enjoy the atmosphere. Some of the coffee, cakes and pies you can find there are the best you will find anywhere in NZ.
From Coromandel you can stay on Highway 25 through rolling farmlands and distant sea views distant sea views. Or you can drive a few kilometres back towards Thames and take the route 309, unsealed in most parts but with special attractions along the way.
End note: And I could go on. Get the picture! I am saying that extra time you need for this route is more than worth it. Instead of a drudgery, it is an inspiration.
That’s my great plan to entice even more people to Whitianga. It is not perfect but it has merit.
Check out on Coromandel CFM’s facebook a short movie on, Take the Scenic Route.
Think about the ferry of a larger size - wouldn’t a big barge be able to carry logs?