Bill and Jane, Penny's lovely aunt and uncle, put us up for the night in Whangerei, and we got to eat some of Jane's delicious free-range potatoes and home-grown eggs.
Next stop, the Coromandel, was serious walking time, with two big day walks - the Pinnacles, a jagged spire of a mountain with dramatic views across the Coromandel penisula, and better yet, the Orange Peel Corner walk. This walk took us up miles of native sub-tropical rainforested mountain, over ground that undulated and rolled, knotting the very slim path around gigantic tree stumps, boulders, mossy outcrops and up near-vertical staiways made of roots. Occasionally we were reminded of the altitude when we peered through a curtain of ferns and creepers at empty space. The whole time, we were pelted with a heavy rain or wrapped up in cloud, which would have ruined the views of a mountain walk, but, as we generally couldn't see more than 25 feet through the forest anyway, only added to the great atmosphere of the place. We never saw a soul on the entire walk.
We stopped in Rotorua for a few days of R&R&luging, before heading for Taupo, and the Tongariro national park.