On the way to Auckland, at Brisbane Airport, a man approached me after spotting my pannier and introduced himself as Toon, a Belgian cyclist planning on cycling and working through New Zealand. We decided to stick together for the a while, landing at the Auckland Airport and cycling our way into the centre where we met a friend, Gijs.
We boarded the ferry the next morning, after an early night, to the Coromandel Peninsular, making our way through beautiful scenery and arriving in the port to the south of Coromandel town. We decided to forgo the sealed main road and took the less-traveled gravel road 309 to Whitiangia. Very steep but very enjoyable, we descended over the range and set up camp on a beach after a good dinner and some wine. Toon entertained some locals with his impressive juggling skills.
A nice breakfast of scrambled eggs saw us off south, through some mixed forests of palm and deciduous trees, following the bluffs of the east coast of Coromandel. We enjoyed a break at an observation point overlooking 'Sailor's Grave' under a blistering sun. Smooth tarmac downhill to the next town where our party of three cyclists grew to five, as we met a couple of European travellers, Ben and Roberta, in Waihi.
I had my first genuine puncture in over 4000km of touring, and was helped eagerly by my new friends as it was repaired. The next camp was in some sand dunes to the south, Whangamata, on a beautiful coastline with a shady campsite and good food and company to keep the morale up high.