Perilous Ride To Port Jackson

We awoke this morning to another rainy day but we will not allow this to dampen our spirits. Nope, we have places to explore and today we’re off to see Port Jackson at the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula.

The Coromandel Peninsula is a rugged landscape with mountains, beaches and few paved roads so to reach our destination we drive from our BnB on the eastern side of the peninsula across to Coromandel Town on the western coast. From here there is one road that leads north to Port Jackson. Having never been here and honestly having not done much research other than to look at a map on Google, we had no idea what we were in for on this trip.

Highway 25 takes us to the western coast and from there we take Port Jackson road north. The road begins as we expected….paved and solid and wide enough for passing traffic. The rains are falling a bit harder by this time and as we make our way further and further north the road becomes narrower and narrower not to mention it goes from paved to dirt, or should I say mud?

A Time For Bravery

Now, I’m a pretty brave gal and I love a good adventure but when traveling in the pouring down rain on a narrow, muddy and slippery road that is skirting the edge of cliffs where the ocean is 75-100 meters below, I tend to get a bit on edge so to speak. Yes, I trust my professional driver and I know he knows what he’s doing but I would be lying to you if I said my heart wasn’t in my throat a few dozen times as I felt the car sliding on the slick mud trail beneath us. My audible gasps have been a source of frustration for poor Dan. I think he thinks they mean I don’t trust him. I do! I honestly do, but accidents happen even to the best of drivers right?

When I’m not holding my breath, putting the death grip on the seat or pumping the imaginary brakes I do take the time to enjoy some of the spectacular scenery outside my window. Even in the rain it is truly breathtaking. The ocean is relatively calm with low clouds lingering above the emerald green waters. Small waves roll softly onto the shores below leaving a thin line of white foam behind.

The clouds are so low that once we begin climbing the mountain we find ourselves enveloped in them. I finally start to enjoy it as we are moving more inland and no longer clinging to the side of the cliff. I actually start to breathe a bit more normally but alas it will not last as the foray to the inner part of the peninsula lasts but a short time. Before I know it we are skirting the ocean again. The only bonus is that we are now at the shoreline and no longer hanging from the cliffs.

Port Jackson & Some Wildlife Too!

The further north we go the more remote it becomes. We see quail and even a few pheasant along the way. Of course we also come across cattle and more than a few sheep. I do love all the wildlife and the way we can get so close to it here. Dan begins to become a bit frustrated with my constant requests to stop but as always he grants my wishes. I swear he is so good to me.

Port Jackson
Port Jackson Beach

Arrival at Port Jackson was a relief and yet somewhat of a let down. Now, I’m sure if we’d have arrived on a beautiful, sunny day when we could have done a little hiking it would have been a different feeling. But, here we are standing on a beach in the rain.

Call me cynical but I’ve been on more than one beach in the rain in my life and they all sort of look the same….gloomy, wet and cold. Of course we aren’t the type of people to look at the negative side of things so as always we say…..”It’s not the destination….it’s the journey and the journey was an adventure.”

With the rain getting worse we hop into the car for the perilous ride back down Port Jackson Road to Coromandel Town. On the way we see several slips where rock and mud have fallen down the mountain onto the road. These weren’t here on the way north so we’re both ready to get this little trip behind us. With no cell reception and few houses we certainly do not want to find ourselves stuck out here because the road is blocked.

Coromandel Town

The ride back to Coromandel Town seems to take a lot less time than the ride up. Why is it that it always feels that way? Anyway, after our trip we decide it’s time to stop for a bite to eat. We find a cute little place to stop called the Umu Cafe & Restaurant. Much to our surprise they cook up a great “American style” pizza. This is something pretty difficult to find in the land of the Kiwis where they put things like BBQ sauce and squid on pizza. They also serve up some ice cold beer which, after this trip, is very welcome.

Coromandel Town
A dramatic shot of the main street in Coromandel Town. The rains are coming and it’s going to get ugly!

We arrive back at our BnB and are met with Evan who says he and Muriel would like to have us join them for cocktails this evening. What a lovely invitation.

A few hours later we are sitting in their beautiful living room enjoying some wine, nibbles and fabulous conversation. He’s a Kiwi, she a Scot and we absolutely adore them! Muriel is quite the artist who makes exquisite mosaic mirrors. She gives me a tour of her studio and a peak into her supply closet that is filled with broken china, tiles, shells….you name it. I only wish we were staying longer so I could have an opportunity for her to show me how to make one of these incredible pieces.

Evan is an artist in his own right with a workshop that houses all the cool tools you’d need to do woodworking or metal work. He actually designed and built the railing on the wooden deck outside of our room. Both are truly wonderful people and we completely enjoy our evening with them. The evening ends with hugs and kisses and we feel amazing knowing we’ve made two new incredible friends. If we ever make it back to the Coromandel we will definitely be looking them up.

Tomorrow we head back across the peninsula to Driving Creek Railway and Waiua Falls for some hiking. I actually think Dan is relaxing a bit too which is a blessing. Stay tuned for more fun stuff to come.

Until next time,


Missed Day #1 of our journey? Click here to get caught up.

Port Jackson Map
Author: Dan & Jilly

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