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Not only is the Coromandel home to the Pinnacles, the most popular overnight walk in the country, but there are also so many beautiful hidden trails to explore. An area that is gaining wider recognition as a top walking destination, particularly with the backing of Coromandel mayor Glenn Leach, who aims to establish New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk on the Peninsula next year. As the only Great Walk to be found north of Rotorua, the track would likely stretch the length of the Peninsula, using the ranges along the backbone of the peninsula to link the lower Coromandel Forest Park with the Coastal Walkway at the northern-most tip.
If you can’t spare enough time to take in the entire Peninsula, here are the top 5 short walks in the area you must see!
#1: Collins Drive Tunnel, Broken Hills Recreation Area
As part of the larger 3.5km Collins Drive Loop circuit, Collins Drive tunnel is 500 metres long and pitch black. It is one of the longest abandoned gold mining tunnels you can still walk through. Lasting approximately 15 minutes, you will need a torch – but turn it off near the entrance and exit to see glow worms!
#2: Waiomu Kauri Grove
This 2.5km round trip should take you around 2.5 hours and heads up through regenerating forest to one of the few remaining stands of mature kauri. Mature kauri are a rare sight on the Peninsula these days after extensive logging cleared all but the most inaccessible valleys in the early 1800’s. Pack some waterproof shoes or crocs as there are a number of small stream crossings.
#3: Waitaia Track, Kuaotunu Peninsula
A short, 2-hour walk that takes you through regenerating forest, past old mining tunnels and across streams, the Waitaia Track enters the Project Kiwi Trusts’ kiwi reserve on the Kuaotunu Peninsula. The Kuaotunu Kiwi Sanctuary was established in 1996 with the support of a handful of keen locals and landowners, intent on controlling predators through trapping, aiming for a survival rate of 20% for kiwi chicks. Check out their website for recordings of male and female kiwi calls before you go, www.projectkiwi.org.nz
#4: Poley Bay
This strikingly beautiful, private inlet is often overlooked by trampers rushing to complete the Coastal Walkway. Plan an extra half hour in your trip and have a picnic lunch at Poley Bay.
#5: New Chums Beach
Voted one of the top 20 beaches in the world, New Chums Beach is only accessible on foot. From the Whangapoua beach carpark, walk out along the headland, around the rocks, past an old pa site and down onto the shore. Visit this stunning, remote beach while you still can as it’s under consideration for privatisation and residential development.
Written by Cathy & Brad Taylor, hiking guides for Walking Legends Guided Walks. Walking Legends offer 4 day walking tours of the Coromandel Peninsula that include some amazing hidden trails, plus the more well-known tracks such as The Pinnacles and Coromandel Coastal Walkway. For more info see: www.WalkingLegends.co.nz