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First Impressions- New Chums Beach, New Zealand

Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula
Taken by Halsey Ward.

You get one aye? And contrary to other gradients for evaluation, the “First Impression” gauge doesn’t possess shades of gray. The only middle ground here exists where passivity and indifference meet. Which may as well be the most epic of fails, because the only thing worse than being coined ‘bad’ is being deemed ‘forgettable’.

A first impression is surely surmountable. By no means is it the only qualifying piece to a puzzle. However, that magic that is found in the first glance, in the initial instant… impossible to recreate and therefore, impossibly important to the proverbial puzzle.

A good first impression, you’ll never find more in it than what you first found, because you saw everything in the first moment. Like the colors in a sunset, inexplicable. Like the hunt for the wind, impossible. There is something indescribable and captivating about a good first impression.

New Zealand is such a place where a good first impression is all to be had. New Zealand is poetically unspoiled and it shouldn't be summarized or categorized. You may begin your day on a long strip of Pacific Coastline and moments later find yourself gazing into the horizon of the Tasman Sea. Summit an active Volcano and top it off with a wine tasting in a vineyard so picturesque you’ll think it fake.

Or perhaps, take advice from a locals guide book, and set off chasing the fable of the mythical “New Chums Beach”. A beach protected from all that is man-made and inhabited only by nature. Feasibly accessible to the adventurers’ eye and theirs alone. If you don’t ask about New Chums, you won’t hear about New Chums. It’s the secretive soul of the Coromandel Peninsula. Tucked effortlessly away on the south side of the peninsula, New Chums doesn't need to compete for the attention of its competitive co-existing Coromandel-corners. Whitianga can have its scallop farmers and its macadamia ‘nuts’! Hahei and Cathedral Cove can boast of the history that Captain Cook brought to their shores many years ago. Coromandel Town can serve as the ferry port and infamous ‘Cookie Time’ hub. And Whangamata can fill the void for all adoring beach bums and their need for a ‘surfer's paradise’.

A seemingly short ferry ride from the Oz-esque city of Auckland to the rustic harbor in Coromandel Town, hail a cab from “Jane”, a mother of two and a friend to all. After a brief stop off at the nearest 4-Square to snag your token snacks and some ‘Sweet As’ cider, head for the hills and hang on to your togs as you’re whisked through the dense, green forest to the other side of this poignant point. Jane will abandon you at your adventures head, which could easily pass as its destination. Whangapoua’s only spectators are a flock of birds, basking in the seas shallow tides and salt kissed sands. The temptation to charge is unavoidable and the child within insists. Synchronized, reacting to your pursuit, the flock's in flight, evading the shores and heading for the horizon. And in an illustrious instant, your stride keeps pace with the flock and the world seems further away, your body, weightless.

Grounded and with Janes' pointer finger serving as your only compass, you trudge through a series of obstacles: an icy estuary, rugged coastline, shell-covered shores, mud-infested forests, mossy rock slides and a series of ecosystems within the span of this short jaunt. Unknowingly, you march up your last bit of hill and your eyes welcome the scenery that is yours for the day.A mile long beach, held captive by two beautiful book ends of rock and wave, this private bay is untainted pure.

You can’t fight your first instinct, which is simply: RUN! Embrace the unrequited life that you have found here today. Forgo the notion that you are anything other than this moment. Welcome the nostalgic principles that brought imagination to your childhood. You find a rope swing and are overwhelmed with the realization that your only decisions today revolve around acts of independent amusement.

You will abandon reality for New Chums Beach. You’ll rediscover a piece of yourself that you thought you left in the sand box, as a 7 year old, with your little brother and his castle, destructing ways. And after a day of singing songs, dolphin kicking in the sea, drawing pictures in the ground and whispering nonsense to the universe…. You’ll part ways with this special place, return to Jane and her cab, return to the dusty ferry docks and eventually, the glimmering, grown up city.

But let this be your first impression of New Zealand. A world where the words of the infamous Dr. Seuss ring real and clear: “Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.” Feel at ease to live in the moment and let your whims be your guide.

‘Churs Bro’ and Kio Ora Mate.

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