By Bachchat staff
The Coromandel Peninsula is blessed with beautiful beaches and rugged, forest-clad ranges. The area has been settled from early times by Maori, with place names commemorating great navigators, including Kupe, who arrived in about 950 A.D., and Hei, sailing master on the waka Te Arawa. Captain Cook made historic landfall here in 1769, to observe the transit of Mercury.
From 1735 the great Kauri forests were milled, and the logging boom in the late 19th century saw the forests decimated. Now The Coromandel Forest Park covers about 73,000 hectares of the peninsula. Visitors can go on day walks and hike into the backcountry. The forest park is home to bellbirds, long-tailed cuckoos, grey warblers, native pigeons and tui. Kiwi can sometimes be heard calling in the night. The Department of Conservation manages about 30% of the land on the Coromandel Peninsula, so there are a wealth of options for hiking, camping and exploring.
Gold was discovered on the Coromandel Peninsula in the 1850s. Around the towns of Thames and Coromandel there are gold mines, relics and historic buildings left over from the rush. Old mining tunnels can be explored in the Karangahake Gorge, and Waihi still has a huge gold mine operating.
There are tranquil harbours on the western coast and golden surf beaches on the eastern coast. The sea is celebrated in annual events such as the Whitianga Scallop Festival, Whangamata Beach Hop, and Coromandel Dive Festival. Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve offers spectacular scenery, walking tracks, pristine beaches and a snorkel trail.
Where to stay
What to do
- go bird watching on the way to the Coromandel, at the Miranda Shorebird Centre
- kayak to Cathedral Cove, where Prince Caspian was filmed
- walk the coastal walkway from Fletchers Bay to Stony Bay
- dig your own hot pool in the sand at Hot Water Beach
- explore old mining tunnels in the Karangahake Gorge
Getting there by road
- From Hamilton by road: 162km
- From Auckland by road: 168km
Getting there by ferry
- 360 Discovery Cruises (Fullers) offers a Coromandel Ferry service from Pier 4, Downtown Auckland, and Orapiu on Waiheke. It’s a scenic 2 hour cruise to Hannafords Wharf. From there you can catch the complimentary shuttle bus to nearby Coromandel Township, or pay for a shuttle bus to Whangapoua, Matarangi, Kuaotunu or Whitianga. Very handy if someone needs to stay in town for work and wants to join the rest of the holiday party somewhere in Coromandel for the weekend!
- 360Discovery Ferry timetable