Set against a backdrop of native forest park, the welcoming surf town of Whangamata is a place to catch a wave, a fish or enjoy a delicious cafe meal.
The attractive combination of sand, surf and native forest makes Whangamata a popular destination for summer holidays. It's easy to find your own space on the four kilometre ocean beach, surf the rolling breaks, or swim in the quiet waters of the harbour. There are two golf courses in the area and plenty of charter boats waiting to take you diving or game fishing. Offshore, Hauturu Island can be reached by kayak or wading at low tide.
Just behind the town, the Coromandel Forest Park is a place for hiking, mountain biking and hunting. The Wentworth Falls walk is particularly lovely.
Onemana Beach, made famous in the recent Middle-earth advertising, is only six kilometres north of Whangamata and is the perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling.
Further north is the settlement of Opoutere which opens onto a beautiful five-kilometre surf beach that has been protected from development by a forested reserve.
Opoutere Wildlife Refuge Reserve is a nesting site for the rare New Zealand dotterel. This small wading bird makes its nest, a mere scraping in the sand, amidst sparse vegetation just above high water. Eggs and chicks are very susceptible to predation and dotterel nests are easily destroyed by storms and careless feet. The dotterel's scurrying antics are a delight to watch from a careful distance.
Whangamata is a great base for exploring The Coromandel, with numerous cafés, restaurants and accommodation options (be sure to book ahead in summer). Arts and crafts shops provide interesting browsing, and surf shops cluster along the main road with boards for hire.