How to plan the perfect Coromandel escape with teenagers

It’s tough to figure out what your teenagers will like at the best of times. So to say I was feeling a bit of pressure around planning the perfect Coromandel escape for my teenager would be a massive understatement.

The need for an escape

So it’s fair to say that 2020 hasn’t got off to a great start.  Now it’s not a competition in who’s had it the roughest year (and I for one am not refereeing that fight).  But I reckon teens have to take a bow as a group who not only have had a rough time but also took it seemingly in their stride.

My eldest had just started college and been there less than 2 months when life was temporarily suspended.  Then she spent 2 months hanging out with us and well we all know the ups and downs of life in lockdown.  

So without oversharing her life (because that’s not what this blog is about) we decided that it was time to get away – just me and her and her best mate.  A bit of a chance to reconnect.  To reset.  To spend time together out of quarantine and for the first time for us, a holiday without siblings.  

Let’s call it therapy.  

My Mum always says that the best place to learn about your kids and get them to open up is in the car.  And she’s right. There’s something about not having to look your parents in the eye as you talk, having your favourite music and the calming effect of the motion of the car.  I’ve been a long time fan of nothing like a long car ride as cheap therapy (another reason why we love playing the Getting Lost Game).

And hey, at 14 who knows how much longer she’ll want to go away with her Mum.

Why Coromandel?

The choice for Coromandel came 100% from my daughter.

We’re long time fans of Coromandel and we’ve made so many memories here with the kids rattling around in James old red ute (known as the Coromandel Express).  

The Coromandel Express

We’re a bit partial to the west coast of the peninsula but this time we made a bit of a loop around the peninsula.  It didn’t feel like a 7 hour drive but Google maps reckon that’s how long we took.

The allure of something you are banned from

There is something about the allure of somewhere you are banned from.

When I was in my 20’s in Wellington there was a bar called Motel.  It was down Forresters Lane out the back of Courtney Place and rather infamously refused to let Liv Tyler in just after it opened in 1999.  That was all it took for us to line up in the dark alleyway in front of the nondescript door – hoping that person looking us up and down through the peephole camera would think us cool enough to let us in. 

For the record John Cleese and my Mum were granted entry!  But the enduring legend was Liv being turned away and it made it so incredibly cool.

The Lost Spring

It’s the same for the Lost Spring.

I first went to the Lost Spring 6 years ago with James.  It was our first weekend away and James surprised me with a trip to the Lost Spring.  It was night time and it was absolutely magical with the hidden caves, amethyst on the wall and cocktails bought to you in the pool.

The Lost Spring Coromandel

I told the girls about it when I came back and the first thing they asked was when they could go.  The Lost Spring is 14+ so it was totally off bounds to them.  Which as we all know makes it all the better…  And I off handedly said when you are 14.

I’d actually forgotten all about that offer until the day before we set out on our Coromandel adventure.  It was freezing and I was thinking how good a hot pool would be and then I realised this would be the perfect start to our escape.

I sometimes think when people say “if you are going to do it, you may as well do it well” they are thinking of me when they say it.

So we didn’t just go to the Lost Spring.  We took advantage of it all!  Hiring the plush red robes so the girls could swan through the tree lined avenues and over swing bridges feeling every bit of their 14 years and allowed in this very (as declared by the girls) boojee spot.

The Lost Spring Coromandel

We ordered cocktails in the pool and floated through hidden caves.

The Lost Spring Coromandel

And had lunch at the Lost Spring restaurant (the girls had chips 2 ways, I had mussels – yum) with a waterfall right outside the window. 

The Lost Spring Coromandel

It was a first glimpse into the illusive world of the grown up and a perfect kick off to a teenage escape to Coromandel.  

Waitete Bay

We are so incredibly lucky to have family with a bach.

James Mum has a bach on the west side of the Coromandel Peninsula.  It’s a little beach called Waitete Bay. It’s about 15 minutes on from Coromandel town and just before you get to Colville.  It is perfect.

While you can’t stay at her bach (sorry), there are a few available on Book a Bach and Air BnB. It really is the most amazing spot to stay in if you are looking for an off the beaten track beach spot.

This was our first time that we’d stayed there by ourselves (which if I’m honest felt rather grown up for me too). It was the only must do on my daughters list – to be able to show her friend our little slice of paradise.

I was again thankful for the upgrade to Four Square Coromandel a couple of years ago as I realised just how much teenagers can eat in one night.

I was also thankful to the excellent hunters in my family when we arrived and found a perfectly filleted snapper in the fridge at the bach thanks to the boys fishing earlier that day.

We spent the night in Waitete Bay playing card games and watching movies we’ve seen a million times (hello Blended).  It was awesome!  Even if I didn’t manage to stay up as late as the girls.

Waitete Bay Coromandel

Water Works

I’m a long time fan of Water Works.  For me it epitomises everything good about the Coromandel. It’s quirky, ingenious, number 8 wired kind of stuff that’s just ridiculously fun.

Water Works Coromandel

I first went in my 20’s.  Since then I’ve taken the kids 4 times and each time as the kids grow, as we go with different groups and the landscape and activities there change, it’s a different experience.

This time there was a new maze.

Water Works Coromandel

But more than that the girls approached it differently.

14 is a tough age.  It’s at the borderline of where they stop playing and a park no longer holds the same joy it used to.  And yet it’s not quite moved into the nostalgic feelings we have for parks as adults.

It’s hard for anyone not to get excited about the type of play on offer at Water Works though. 

From the swings out over the river…

Water Works Coromandel

To the giant swings and flying foxes that almost send you flying off them at the end (with a safety slow down if you need it).

Water Works Coromandel

Not to mention the giant water fight, bikes that fly through the air ET style and giant see saws.

Water Works Coromandel

And there are so many things to twist and turn (most of them resulting in getting splashed, dunked or squirted with water).

Water Works Coromandel

Running alongside all the things to play on is a river and a great waterhole.

Water Works Coromandel

The girls have jumped in it before (despite the eels they landed on) but I thought in July that it would surely be too cold.  Nope.  They jumped right in!

Water Works Coromandel

They’ve even written it in the visitor book to memorialise the fact that they did it.  Talking to the owners there’s a couple of hearty Kiwi kids who also try it so don’t rule it out on a winter trip.

Home time

Finally the girls warmed up at Granny’s with a spa in Thames before heading home (with the inevitable  and first argument on the way).  

On the whole I reckon it was a pretty perfect teenage retreat to the Coromandel.

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