see on Coromandel Peninsula
around the Coromandel Peninsula
A visit to New Zealand will show you
many different aspects of the place from rugged alpine
regions, beautiful beaches,
adventure holidays and aquatic activities.
love the water and are keen to take to the briny in small boats
for long weekends away in secluded spots.
place you can see this is on the Coromandel
Peninsula, which is on the east coast of the North Island about
halfway between Auckland and Tauranga.
peninsula is a top spot to sail around with exquisite anchorages
and hard to find coves, but you can also explore it at leisure by
say at leisure because some of the roads are pretty windy and although
quite compact it can take you a little longer than anticipated.
There are two main parts to the Coromandel Peninsula - the western
side that sits on the Firth of Thames and the ocean-side east where
you can have some of the best yachting and diving around.
upon what you want to do and see you takes your choice between staying
at the old mining town of Thames - which in its heyday had almost
100 pubs to service the local gold mining industry - or over the
other side at Whitianga.
of the fantastic old hotels
remain and while mining and logging have been supplanted by the
outdoors and tourism industries you know Thames is a place that
has a bit of money behind it. It
is also home to some very good cafes.
Thames you can check out the Gold Mine Experience - a walk through
an old mine and panning for gold - a School of Mines and Mineralogical
Museum, or the Butterfly and Orchid Garden where you can stop indoors
for an up-close encounter with hundreds of the colourful critters.
Thames you can head up the peninsula following the coastal road
through small waterside towns and end up at Coromandel
Town, a pretty cool spot for a weekend away.
are lots of small historic buildings, some good eateries - the pub
serves huge meals - and plenty of places to stay. We stayed at the
new Abbey Court motel. The rooms were very comfortable and tidy
and it is about two minutes walk to the town centre.
five minutes out of Coromandel Town is the amazing Driving
not only a really cool mini railway that leads up a mountain to
some amazing views of the peninsula, it is also a living workshop
for artists - such as potters and glassblowers.
Coromandel Town you can go on to the Coromandel Forest Park where
hikers can go crazy around dozens of walking tracks.
get to the eastern side you can either follow the main road across
the peninsula and then down the eastern coast to the lovely seaside
Whitianga or try your luck on the 309 Road. This is a mountain route
that it is advisable for four-wheel-drives. It's a short distance,
but takes a long time. Along it however there are some pretty amazing
are lots of places to get some good photos down the coast road to
Whitianga and the best bet is to just take your time.
I have scuba dived off Whitianga and it has amazingly big crays,
although the autumnal weather did not fire enthusiasm for a scuba
dive this time around.
is an excellent base for exploring the peninsula and several must-see
spots are within easy drive.
first has to be Cathedral
Cove, which can be compared with Port Campbell's Arch along
Victoria's Great Ocean Road in Australia.
It is a half-hour hike to a sandy cove where you can swim to a pancake-like
rock shelf about 100 metres off shore or walk through an arched
cave through to a second beach that has its own tall sandstone island.
walk down to Cathedral Cove is not easy for the unfit - there are
steep parts - but pack a picnic and sit back and relax once you
get there as it is glorious.
the way a five-minute detour will also take you to Stingray
Bay where the light green transparent waters allow you to watch
rays swimming. Be a bit careful on windy days, however, as I almost
got creamed by a native tree branch deciding to drop down nearby.
Rocks down the far end of the beach are also prone to detaching
themselves from the cliff face so keep close to the water.
can also see Gemstone Bay
- where you can snorkel - but the beach is exceptionally rocky and
no good for sunbathing.
A 5-minute drive from the carpark at Cathedral Cove is the popular
beachside village of Hahei. Very crowded in summer Hahei does offer
tourists one of the most expensive shops I've ever seen in my life.
At the general store you could buy a house with what you pay for
fresh fruit so - take your own food to the area.
far away from Hahei is Hot
Water Beach where, for two hours either side of low tide, you
can dig yourself a hole and plonk in for a good soak in hot water.
Well, that is if you pick better spots than we did. We have nicknamed
the spot Not-so Hot Water Beach. Still when the kids and I were
there plenty of people opened up steaming little personal spas near
warned the place can get overrun by masses of tourists wanting in
on the action but it is all very friendly and if you have sense
you'll dig a hole near one of the hotter pools and then dig a channel
to borrow some of their water, which can get hot enough to cook
if you want to get away from it all check out the Hot
Water Beach Holiday Park.
Heading south are the places of the rich - in Pauanui and Tairua,
which are connected by a small ferry that takes you across an interesting
you have the time - and strong legs - head up to the summit of Puka,
a cone-like hill that gives you magnificent views of Tairua and
up, following a good southerly drive down a coast filled with good
spots to stop and get some great scenic views, is Whangamata.
has a wonderfully wide, hard sand beach that is just perfect for
beach cricket, or footy, and there are just-offshore islands that
offer good diving or else just something interesting to look at.
Coromandel is a fascinating mix of New Zealand with both alternative
and rich folk mingling in seemingly pleasant ways.
offers a good chance for excellent food and good walks with which
to exercise off the kilos.
you its proximity to Auckland means that
anyone driving through the area will be taken to be an Aucklander
and will be charged like a wounded bull. Take a full wallet.