Up early to try to catch the sunrise, we decided to go back to the Cathedral Cove trail, but this time visit Sting Ray Bay. Just a short hike in, we found ourselves on another beautiful secluded beach with unique rock sculptures and crystal clear blue water.

Sting Ray Bay 

As Jordan and I started exploring the beach, climbing over boulders in search of more caves, Jordan quickly realized why the beach got its name. Within a few seconds, about 4 string rays were circling around his feet in the shallow water. I was amazed how quickly they moved in the water (which stressed me out watching, but Jordan was cool as a cucumber).

Note the Sting Ray about 2ft from Jordan’s toes 

Late morning we started to make our way towards Karangahake Gorge just outside Waihi. David, one of our hosts in Auckland, had recommended we check out the historic walkways on our way down the North Island. The Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway follows part of an old railway that serviced the gold mine rush in late 1800’s. Remnants of the gold mining equipment line the forest path, with three suspension bridges that span over the bubbling Ohinemuri River.

Karangahake Gorge 
Karangahake Gorge suspension bridges 

The Windows Walk was filled with old mining tunnels that burrowed into the mountain a few hundred metres. Luckily we brought our headlamps with us so we could explore the deep, dark tunnels inside the mountains. As our lights touched the darkness, the mineral filled water dripping from the ceiling lit up like sparkles. The pathways were lined with old railway tracks that wound inside the mountain in all kinds of directions. On more than one occasion we had to choose which path to take – but in the end we explored them all!

Exploring the mountain tunnels 

There was even an old underground pump house that was deep inside one of the tunnels. You could almost imagine the voices of the bustling gold miners as they dug their way to riches.

Underground Pump House

After our 2 hour tunnel exploration, we jumped back into our packed Ractis and took off to Otorohanga where we decided to stay in a little cabin at the local Holiday Park since the overnight forecast was calling for some pretty heavy rain. The campgrounds in New Zealand are equipped with everything you could ever need – full kitchens, BBQ, showers, washer/dryers, etc and at this time of year are nearly abandoned, yet immaculate.

Our ‘Rooms to Move’ cabin for the night 

Jordan made us a delicious salad, with fresh kiwis and apples from the local ‘Fruit Monster’ market. We also made these ‘cracker sandwiches’ from these special crackers we found in the local grocery store. Yummy! Another successful day despite the weather!

Our gourmet camping meal 


Check out Episode 5: Karangahake Gorge