Touring New Zealand – The Coromandel Coast A Tourist Gem
Category : Travel
If you are visiting New Zealand, then one of the must see areas `off the tourist trail’, is the Coromandel Coast. This is a wonderful coastal area on the east coast of the North Island, about a 2 hour drive from Auckland, which is the holiday playground for people living in the top half of the North Island. It is famous for its beaches and beautiful coastal scenery. If you are travelling by car or campervan, and looking to do a 4 – 5 day tour out of
Auckland, then this would be day one of the trip – Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel township.
You will need to take the main road south out of Auckland and turn off south of the Bombay Hills and then head across the Hauraki Plains to the historic township of Thames. In its day, Thames was a booming mining town, processing over 2 million ounces of gold (worth over 2 Billion dollars today) that was discovered in the surrounding rivers and streams in the late 1800’s. Be sure to check out some of the remnants of the mining boom such as a tour through a historic goldmine and 19th century operational Stamper Battery.
Travelling north up the coast to quaint Coromandel township, is arguably one of New Zealand’s most beautiful coastal drives. The small township of Coromandel is a legacy of the forest and the mining era of the 1800’s. From 1795, the surrounding hills were tragically denuded of native Kauri trees, which were used for the masts and spars of the British Navy. The School of Mines is an interesting place to visit, containing many relics of those early years, showing all aspects of mining and mine engineering.
Travelling through to your next overnight stop of Whitianga, you have one of two options – to travel north on the main scenic route, or take the infamous inland 309 road. If you travel via the scenic route you will enjoy some wonderful coastal vistas towards the northern-most tip of the Coromandel coast as you travel down to the Whangapoua Harbour and the new beach resort of Matarangi, where you can enjoy a swim.
For the more adventurous, I would recommend that you also consider taking the inland 309 route. This is a very narrow, windy, gravel road but it has some beautiful native bush scenery. The highlight of this trip is to stop off to view the magnificent stand of 1,000 year-old Kauri trees about 14 kms from Coromandel.
Whitianga is fast-becoming a popular holiday resort, with a large canal development geared for the wonderful boating opportunities of the area. The adjoining Cooks Beach was named after Captain James Cook, an English explorer, who landed here in the Endeavour in November 1769. He came on shore during his circumnavigation of New Zealand in order to watch the passing of the planet Mercury across the sun. By establishing New Zealand’s correct longitudinal position, he literally “put New Zealand on the world map”. He spent 11 days in the area, meeting the Maori people, and he also took the opportunity to plant the Union Jack on the beach and claimed New Zealand for King George III and named it Mercury Bay.
You will enjoy this busy summer holiday town, where you can take a ferry ride across to catch a shuttle bus to visit Cooks Beach, Hei Hei and the world-famous beauty of Cathedral Cove.