Opito Bay doesn’t get mentioned much on the Coromandel. I don’t know why; it’s gorgeous! A long, curving expanse of sandy beach with super clear blue water leads to a pa (fort) site on a huge headland at the end.
When I found out it was possible to climb Castle Rock, I knew that I had to do it. A short but steep climb up to the sometimes-castle, sometimes-sleeping giant is rewarded with amazing 360 degree views of the Coromandel Peninsula.
The Punakaiki – Pororari Loop track is spectacular; the water is so clear you can see the rocks at the bottom of the river and the logs that have fallen in. The dramatic limestone cliffs are towering above you and the sunlight is filtering through the palm leaves, turning them an incredible shade of green.
High above the river, the narrow path snaked along the rim of the gorge. The turbulent waters far below were an improbable shade of milky aquamarine, having come straight from glaciers. Trees clung precariously to the steep side of the cliff I was on, while on the opposite bank they lined the winding river, providing a barrier to the bright green fields lined with vibrant yellow flowers.
I have a visitor here at the moment, and while I tend to do things slowly, this particular friend and I go really slowly. Opera Point was supposed to be a quick walk, 15 minutes each way. We somehow turned it into two and a half hours. How did we do this?
“After a tedious climb, we at last saw the head of the gorge, a wonderful sight on which not many eyes have gazed. It is closed by a semi-circle of cliffs, precipitous and black. And wedged, as it were, between three mountain peaks, lies an enormous glacier. Not a long river of ice but a mighty mass of ice, breaking off sharp at the top of the stupendous peaks.”
-A. Maud Moreland, 1911