No one bothered to tell me what the Coromandel was.
“The Coromandel is beautiful!”, they said. “You’ve got to take a drive up to the Coromandel!”, they stressed. I nodded in agreement, saying that “yes, yes…I must.” But, I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.
A farm, a restaurant, a beach? I couldn’t figure it out and for some reason, I couldn’t stop picturing a mantel piece. Mantel…Mandel……
It turns out, the Coromandel is an AREA, a destination..a sort of landmass jutting out from the north island. It’s made up of farms, beaches, historic towns and lots of natural attractions.
You can drive around, make some stops, go on hikes and camp. If you’re planning on road tripping around the Coromandel, here are some things you can do!
Hot Water Beach
We had been waiting for this one a long time! Because of natural hot springs under the sand, a bit of digging will leave you with a perfect pool of hot water.
Actually, the digging time lasted about an hour and the water was so boiling that it drove grown men to near tears as they sprinted towards the sea, crushing childrens’ sandcastles in their path.
Visitors can buy shovels at the visitors center, park or camp at the grounds and walk over to the beach to dig their own holes. The staff will let you know which times the tide is out so make sure to get there early and find a spot.
Also, it’s important to let the ground water and sea water mix together to get that hot tub temperature.
This beach makes you work for it. Once finding a spot in the nearby parking lot, you will have to walk about 30-40 minutes through the bush to get to the cove.
The scenes from the walk will district from the heat and when you see how it opens up into crystal clear water, you will have long forgotten about the effort to reach it. The cove itself gives plenty of rocky shade and the water is so beautiful that you will be drawn in to swim, even if you forgot your bathing suit (my bra and panties were a bit soggy for the rest of the day.)
Historic Towns; Shopping And Cafes
Everyone knows each other, the butcher and produce stand replace the grocery store and it won’t take more than two minutes to drive through the center. These small towns do still exist and they are all over the Coromandel.
Thames is probably the biggest and has thrift shops, coffee stops and quirky restaurants. Coromandel Town is quite similar but throws a few beaches into the mix and Paeroa is another mining town on the route that shows off one of New Zealand’s famous roadside attractions, the giant L&P bottle (a lemon soda drink that is really popular here.)
Around the Kauri trees, coastline and mountains, New Zealanders have carved out walking trails all over the Coromandel. You can find The Pinnacles walk near Thames, a historic walk amongst the foothills and along the route of the Kauri loggers.
There are multiple trails along the Karangahake Gorge, the Coromandel Coastal Walkway, the Orokawa Bay Walk and the Waiomu Kauri Grove walk.
This list is short in comparison to all of the activities that can be done in the Coromandel. Take a weekend to check out the highlights or stay a week and try to do all of it if you think you got what it takes!