The Coromandel

A leisurely hour-and-a-half’s drive from Auckland is the relaxed coastal lifestyle and natural beauty of the The Coromandel, home to more than 400 kilometres of stunning coastline, lined with quiet coves and beaches fringed with misty rainforests. Evidence of The Coromandel’s gold mining and maritime past are scattered throughout the small towns and ports along the rugged coastline. Cook’s Coast refers to a string of beaches where Captain Cook beached his ship, the Endeavour, to carry out repairs.
 

Whitianga

From Whitianga you can enjoy the beaches, water sports and boat excursions of Mercury Bay. Expect great seafood and enjoy a forest walk or two.

If you’re exploring The Coromandel, you’ll soon come to Whitianga - the main town on Mercury Bay. When native forests were being harvested on the peninsula in the 1800s and early 1900s, Whitianga was a timber port. Ships from Europe sailed in to Whitianga's deepwater harbour to load up with valuable kauri. Today, the township depends on fishing, farming and tourism for its prosperity.

If you're in Whitianga during September, don't miss the Whitianga Scallop Festival, a weekend of indulgence with more than 60 food and wine stalls, seafood cooking demonstrations and competitions including scallop shucking.

 

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Thames

The historic town of Thames was the scene of New Zealand’s first gold rush in the 1850s. The town of Thames itself was formed in 1870 from two smaller gold-rush settlements - Shortland and Grahamstown. The lure of gold and logging caused the town to grow rapidly. But, as often happens, the gold ran out and the town's population stabilised.

The northern end of Thames, known still as Grahamstown, offers cafes and boutique shops in a charming colonial setting. Be sure to visit the museum, which covers early Maori times, the arrival of the first pioneers and the development of mining, logging, railways and shipping. You can also visit the historic School of Mines.

Behind the town, the ancient volcanic Coromandel Ranges rise steeply. The magnificent Kauaeranga Valley hiking and camping area is just to the south, and the road to the north follows the coast past scores of sandy beaches and fishing hot spots. The hike to The Pinnacles (in the Kauaeranga Valley) is one of the New Zealand’s best one day walks with spectacular views of the east coast and the rugged peaks. 

 

Tourism New Zealand

Pauanui

The purpose-built holiday town of Pauanui is the perfect place to relax, with sandy beaches, forest walks, and laid back places to eat, shop and play golf.

Pauanui is a popular beach settlement located on a narrow stretch of land between the Pacific Ocean and a tranquil inner harbour.

The broad, three-kilometre beach has a gentle gradient, making it relatively safe for swimming. Depending on the direction of the wind, Pauanui can also be great for surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing.

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Must-do Experiences

Take a step back in time at Karangahake Gorge, home of the 1875 gold rush, and ride the Goldfields Vintage Railway, which runs from Waikino to Waihi. You can even view an active gold mine – the Martha Mine at Waihi.

The Coromandel offers a huge array of natural activities here with an extensive range of treks, walks, rides or guided kayak trips. Walk to the summit of Pauanui Mountain, take a two-hour guided kayak trip to Cathedral Cove, walk to the foot of the Waiau Falls, wander along the Cook’s Coast from Stone Steps Wharf to Lonely Bay or bike the Hauraki Rail Tail, a flat easy ride from Kaiaua to Te Aroha and Waihi. This ride is a great way to explore the the stunning staircase falls and spectacular scenery of the Karangahake Gorge. Walk to the summit of Pauanui Mountain, take a two-hour guided kayak trip to Cathedral Cove, walk to the foot of the Waiau Falls, or wander along the Cook’s Coast from Stone Steps Wharf to Lonely Bay.

The historic towns of Thames and Coromandel were the scene of New Zealand’s first gold rush in the 1850s. Take a step back in time at Karangahake Gorge, home of the 1875 gold rush, and ride the Goldfields Vintage Railway, which runs from Waikino to Waihi. You can even view an active gold mine – the Martha Mine at Waihi.

 

Biking Staircase falls
Destination Coromandel
Little Big Town
At the height of Gold Rush, it looked like Thames would surpass Auckland as the main centre in New Zealand.