Coromandel Travel Guide
“We had a wonderful time for the whole month that we were away and a holiday never to be forgotten supported by the hundreds of photographs we took.” – David and Libby Hutt (UK)
The Coromandel, New Zealanders favourite destination, is within two hours drive of the major centres of Auckland and Hamilton and their International Airports and yet the region is a world away from the hustle and bustle of those cities.
Fabulous golden and white sand beaches with magnificent coastal scenery, a rugged, forest cloaked interior waiting to be explored are just some of the natural attractions that have people returning to the Coromandel time after time.
Located just one and a half hours from Auckland International Airport the Coromandel is a world away from the urban sprawl. Its unique landscape and relaxed lifestyle make it an ideal destination for both New Zealanders and international visitors. There is plenty to do in the Coromandel and plenty to learn about.
Along with its natural beauty – misty rainforests and pristine beaches – it’s historical past is rich and colourful. Captain Cook visited the area in 1769 and observed the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the sun hence the names of some of the region’s beaches and bays – Mercury Bay and Cook’s Beach.
In the nineteenth century the peninsula teemed with human activity associated with the exploitation of timber, gold and kauri gum. Eventually the kauri and the accessible gold were exhausted and the gum market destroyed. The Coromandel lapsed into an economic and social decline that was eventually halted by the gradual growth of farming, fishing, horticulture, and tourism. The land slowly “mended” and a new era of people moved into the area, one that valued the environment. Thirty four percent of the land on the peninsula is now administered by the Department of Conservation.
Many visitor attractions have been developed so that visitors can reflect on the region’s former days. The Coromandel’s history is captured in the many museums around the region. Guides are available to take visitors into the bush to view the remnants of the gold mining and logging era.
The Coromandel is a walker’s paradise with many coastal walkways and inland bush walks ranging from several hours to several days. Huge kauris that were saved from the loggers’ saws still remain and can easily be viewed.
Many artists and craftspeople have made the Coromandel their home, inspired by the region’s idyllic setting. Visitors can follow an arts and crafts trail from one side of the peninsula to the other following the popular Pacific Coast Highway. Other tourism operators have established themselves to take advantage of the clear waters and many kilometres of coastline and islands surrounding the Coromandel. Choose from the numerous water activities available – fishing, sailing, kayaking, snorkelling or swimming. Take a few days to enjoy this exceptional part of New Zealand – it is too good to miss.
Coromandel Sightseeing Day Tours
Coromandel is a paradise of native forests, spectacular mountains & national parks, horticulture & farming, coastal scenery, glowworms, unique culture, & friendly people! Enjoy the flora & fauna of the semi-tropical rainforest with giant ferns, kauri trees and crystal clear streams on this guided day tour of the region. Highly recommended!
Whangamata Famous for its unique combination of beach and rainforest, Whangamata’s amazing ocean beach provides some of the best surfing breaks, yet safest swimming in the country. Big game fishing can also be found further off the coast.
The Coromandel Forest Park and Tairua Forest bordering the town provide many outdoor experiences, including short walks, mountain bike trails and old gold mining sites. The town also has one of the best shopping centres in the region, a unique café culture and a range of sporting facilities from golf (9 & 18 hole courses) to a swimming pool that is the envy of many nearby communities.
Rich in a variety of arts, sculpture, painting, weaving and pottery, a number of the houses in the area are holiday homes – providing weekend refuge and the classic kiwi beach holiday.
Tairua & Pauanui
Fabulous twin harbour towns on the Peninsula’s east coast, Tairua and Pauanui offer a superb setting beside the Pacific Ocean. Close by is Paku, a twin-coned Maori pa sculptured hillside that was once an island while offshore lies the Slipper, Shoe and Alderman Islands. A number of charter and fishing boats operate from both wharves and the beaches are perfect for safe swimming and surfing in most conditions.
Tairua is the older of the two towns and originally a milling and farming community. Across the water, is Pauanui, a purposebuilt holiday community that features the country’s first canal housing development. The internationally acclaimed Puka Park Resort is also found here.
Located on the east coast of the Coromandel, Mercury Bay’s main town of Whitianga has attracted visitors for more than a thousand years, since Maori explorer Kupe first settled here around 950A.D. But it was Captain James Cook who gave the area its name, when he anchored in the bay in 1769 to observe the transit of Mercury.
Now an established tourist resort, the Bay’s spectacular coastline is dotted with islands and its relatively sheltered waters are perfect for all water sports. There are a large range of activities to enjoy.
Scenic Highlights in the Coromandel
Hot Water Beach – for two hours either side of low tide, visitors can dig themselves into the sand and enjoy the hot spring waters.
Hahei – from the lookout of this attractive beach (named after the Maori Chief Hei) there is access to Cathedral Cove and the Marine Reserve.
Cooks Beach – flanked by Shakespeare Cliff to the west and the picnic spot of Purangi River to the East, this is a popular visitor destination.
Buffalo Beach – named after the H.M.S. Buffalo wrecked here in 1840, this beach offers safe swimming, plus good fishing and shellfish collecting. Further north is Wharekaho Beach, where the areas main Maori Pa was located.
Kuaotunu – once a thriving gold mining town, this area offers a good beach, fishing and access – via the famous Black Jack Road – to the picturesque white sand beaches of Otama and Opito.
Whitianga Wharf – the centre for boating and fishing activity, where you can take the passenger Ferry to Ferry Landing and Flaxmill Bay or the shuttle to Cooks beach, Hahei, Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.
Matarangi – a purpose-built, resort town offering 4.5km of beautiful beach and safe swimming. Amenities include a golf course, tennis, boat ramp, airfield and dairy.
Mercury Bay Museum – located in the old Dairy Factory, the museum offers fascinating relics from the areas past.
Wharekaho (Simpsons Beach) Cooks first landing place in NZ.