Port Jackson, December 2nd 2017
Dear friends and family,
We hope you are all doing well.
We are at the very North of the peninsula of Coromandel, enjoying our last days in this region before going more South to the Bay of Plenty.
We spent nearly 3 weeks in this area. We were supposed to start our 2nd volunteering work with the beekeepers 2 weeks ago but when we arrived at our hosts' place, 2 volunteers were already there. Little misunderstanding but it's ok, we would come back when the other volunteers leave.
So we looked for the closest campground around and, lucky us, there was a brewery on the site! Perfect to help us plan our next move. We ordered a beer at the counter and met Henri, who works at the brewery with Aurélie, his girlfriend. They also work in a kiwifruit orchard that belongs to the same owners as the brewery and the campsite. We asked Henri & Aurélie if they needed help at the brewery or in the orchard as we had a few days to kill.
The next morning, we went to the orchard with Aurélie and Henri and we met their manager, Rob. He needed help and hired us for a week. Sometimes, opportunities come from very little things :) We signed the mandatory paperwork and went on the field. After a few minutes of training, we joined the team of Aurélie, Henri and a group of German girls (Hannah, Jenny, Lina and Antonia).
We were "thinning" the kiwifruits, that is to say, we removed all the flawed kiwifruits, doubles and triples (yes, it's extremely discriminatory)
We worked 8 hours per day when the weather was good. The kiwifruits are too sensitive at this age to be handled under the rain. As it rained a day and a half, we started to discover the region: the very peaceful Coromandel town, the beautiful New Chums beach only acessible by foot (or boat), Whangapoua's surfers and the quiet Tairua.
After the orchard days, we spent most of the time with the group of Germans and Aurélie and Henri, all hosted at the same campground. We played UNO, darts, tennis table, went to Hahei beach... very nice evenings!
Very close to the campground, we could buy vegetables, fruits and eggs directly to a farmer. Some farmers, either small families or bigger businesses, sell their veg/fruits: they place a 'Drive-in' sign in front of their driveway, add a small hut with veg/fruits baskets and their price and a closed box with a small notch. You take what you want and slip the cash in the box. Easy peasy!
After this week in the orchard, we moved a few kilometers away, to Ivan and Irma's, our beekeepers hosts. They built their house themselves with white clay bricks. The shower is outside, the surroundings are beautiful. They rearranged a caravan for the volunteers, it's basic but very comfy.
We worked roughly 6 hours per day; in the morning to feed the bees (editor's note: we add sugar syrup so the bees focus on pollination), clean some parts of the beehives and add some honey boxes on some of them and/or in the evening to move the beehives from an orchard to a honey spot (editor's note: we move the hives when the bees are all back home, otherwise, the bees left in the orchard can become aggressive and attack the workers). Ivan and Irma have 2 businesses: they produce honey and they provide bees & beehives for the pollination. During the spring, they install some of their beehives in their partners' orchards to pollinate different fruits and then at the end of the spring and during the summer, they move those hives to honey spots, where there are more flowers, so the bees can focus on making honey.
During our free time, we did a few hikes and notably went up to the Castle Rock where the view of Coromandel is incredible.
We also walked to Cathedral Cove and discovered a spectacular arch and a very clear water and we went to Hot Water beach to dig a hole. Just be careful where you dig, it can quickly burn the bum! Two underground fissures are located under this beautiful beach and at low tide, you can dig into the sand and some hot water will escape. Fortunately, some cold water also runs under the beach so you can quickly adjust the temperature of your private pool.
After this week with the bees, we hit the road again and we are now at the north of the peninsula in a very nice campground, very quiet (less than 10 vehicles), close to the ocean. They are expecting 500 vehicles in a few weeks... we're so glad to be here now!
We met Fred, the owner of the campground, who offered us a big piece of fish - perfect for our dinner! And Dave, the handyman of the campground, will teach us how to fish. Kiwis are so nice!
Sorry, we have to go, the fishing lesson is starting!
See you soon. Lots of love,
Léonie and Baptiste