The Coromandel Forest Park
This dense forest covers a huge area of the peninsula. The most popular part of the park is the Kauaeranga Valley, just out of Thames, where you’ll find DOC campsites and numerous walking tracks. To work up a sweat, tackle the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail – a three to four-hour hike to a jagged limestone outcrop known as the Pinnacles. Great views of the surrounding countryside from the top!
North of Thames, SH25 snakes its way along the coast, past pretty little bays and peaceful beaches. Stop for a picnic, a swim or to throw out a line – the fishing is excellent right along this coastline.
This sleepy little town wasn’t always so quiet – at the height of the gold rush the population swelled to over 10,000! Today it’s a good spot to stock up on supplies and wander the shops.
Driving Creek Railway and Potteries
Potter and railway enthusiast Barry Brickell originally built this narrow-gauge railway back in 1975 to transport clay, firewood, coal and other materials to his pottery studio and kilns. Over the years the tracks have expanded and today the railway is a popular tourist destination, taking visitors on a one-hour return trip through native kauri forest to a spectacular vantage point called the Eyeful Tower. Stick around for the video afterwards about Barry’s colourful life. You’ll find the railway a short drive from Coromandel Town.
For complete isolation, point your camper north to beautiful Fletcher Bay. There’s a DOC campsite located right on the beach and it’s a great spot for swimming, boating, diving and fishing. Another excellent excursion is to mountain bike or walk the coastal path between Fletcher Bay and Stony Bay. It’s a 10km return walk or an 8km cycle. The biking is steep in places and only suitable for advanced riders and people with a good level of fitness. The pay off? Great views of the Coromandel coastline and offshore islands (Great Barrier Island, Cuvier and Mercury Islands).
Be aware: the road from Colville is unsealed and bumpy.
The east coast of the Coromandel boasts the best of the beaches. From Whangapoua you can walk to the white sands and crystal-clear waters of New Chums Beach. With no vehicle access, it will feel like your own private paradise.
Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach
The complete opposite of New Chums Beach! These are both hugely-popular spots with tourists so expect a crowd. Cathedral Cove is only accessible at low tide – there’s a walking track from the car park or your can walk from Hahei Beach. Hot Water Beach is famous for its thermal waters. Come two hours either side of low tide and dig your own hot pool.
Worth knowing: Although it’s not particularly large, the narrow, winding roads of the Coromandel can take a surprisingly long time to navigate. And definitely avoid the Christmas and New Year period, when the whole of Auckland descends upon this picture-perfect paradise. (Summer weekends can also be busy – visit mid-week or out of season to experience the best of the Coromandel.)
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Have a great week,