Our son Michael, and his girlfriend Leah, have been working with WWOOF in New Zealand since September 2013.
Before they ever left home, John and I booked a trip to see them for Thanksgiving.
Our trip started in Lake Taupo and you can read all about our time there HERE.
We spent the rest of our week together on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.
The 4.5 hour drive was filled with windy roads and beautiful landscapes.
A narrow dirt road led us to our rental home.
The Bluff on Rings Beach is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath elevated home on Bluff Road.
The house is about a minute walk from the beach and offers stunning sea views.
Salt Restaurant & Bar is located in Whitianga, about 15 minutes from our home in Rings Beach.
It was such a gorgeous night that we chose to sit outside by the Whitianga Marina.
Every Friday night, Salt serves complimentary hors d’oeuvres during happy hour from 4-7 PM.
I highly recommend Happy Hour at Salt.
We were going to stay for dinner but they didn’t have a table available until late.
Across the street is Blue Ginger, another recommended “local favorite”.
The have really good food with clean, fresh flavors.
Thai Green Curry with prawns, squid, and scallops:
Prawn Lettuce Cups with grilled prawns, fresh pineapple, cucumber, herbs, and a chili lime mayo:
The next morning we went to Te Whanganui-A-Hei, better known as Cathedral Cove.
Cathedral Cove is a must visit on the Coromandel Peninsula.
It is AMAZING and deserved its own write-up. You can see all of the pictures from Cathedral Cove HERE.
Another “must visit” is Hot Water Beach.
At low tide, and sometimes 2 hours on each side of low tide, you should be able to find hot water bubbling through the sand.
My friend told me about how they dug a hole and steamed mussels on the beach when they visited.
The four of us agreed that THAT was exactly what we wanted to do for lunch: steam mussels on the beach using nature’s hot water.
Except, the water wasn’t hot.
Not even warm.
All of those people were sitting in puddles of cold water.
I dipped my toe in every one of the pools just to make sure.
What a let down.
Squids in Whitianga for mussels!
We ordered two Mussel Pots:
A kilo of Coromandel Green shell mussels steamed with wine, garlic, and cream.
And two bowls of Squids Seafood Chowder:
It is made with fresh and smoked Coromandel fish, squid, and mussels in a creamy velouté sauce.
I love that Leah takes food pictures, too.
That night we kept is simple with grilled burgers at home and game night.
We woke to another gorgeous day and headed down to the beach:
For a Girls vs Guys Bocce Ball Tournament!
I am pretty sure the girls won.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach.
Michael was the only brave one who went for a swim:
I wrote NZ 2013 in the sand:
Can you see it?
Such a fun day!
On our last night together we went to Luke’s Kitchen, another local’s favorite 5 minutes from our rental home.
They have live music:
A traditional wood-fired pizza oven:
And cold beer.
I checked-out the specials board:
Duck Confit Pizza.
We also ordered the Triple ‘P’ with prawn, pepperoni, pesto, red onion, garlic and capers:
And the Pacific Chix with coconut chicken, zucchini, onion preserved lime, and coriander.
I still crave their pizzas.
When the sun started to set, Leah and I followed a bunch of people outside to see the colors painted across the sky.
My pictures just don’t capture it.
Where is John?
There he is!
We had the best night at Luke’s!
When we travel, we try to find out where the locals hang out.
We struck gold at Luke’s Kitchen.
Incredible food, people, and atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the next day we had to check out of our rental home and leave Rings Beach.
The four of us drove to Thames and had one last meal together at Woodturners Cafe.
It is located at 3815 State Highway 2 — a little hard to find but well worth it.
They serve breakfast all day:
Sandwiches on homemade bread:
And the best Pumpkin and Cumin Quiche, ever.
With teary eyes and heavy hearts, we said our goodbyes and parted ways.
Our week together was everything we wanted and needed it to be.
Bye for now, Michael and Leah . . .
We’ll see you in March!
And for more on New Zealand, read about our time in Aukland, Queenstown, Wanaka, Tekapo, and Christchurch HERE.