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There are many wonderful Coromandel day trips to enjoy in this stunningly beautiful part of New Zealand. Home to more beaches than you could possibly explore in a few days, some are dotted with tiny settlements, forests and waterfalls. There’s also plenty of evidence of this area’s gold mining history. Close to Auckland, it’s a popular playground for Kiwis and tourists alike and can get bustling and busy particularly during in the peak summer months (Dec-Jan). However, if you want some peace and solitude New Zealand Vacations are confident there are always plenty of quiet corners to be found.
1) Cathedral Cove
Yet another of New Zealand’s beautiful coastal offerings, where the sea is blue and the sand white. However, if that isn’t enough in itself to tempt you then Cathedral Cove has something a little different. Its picturesque beaches are separated by a high ceilinged natural rock archway which opens out into a cavern-like structure – this is the ‘cathedral’ of Cathedral Cove. Access isn’t tide dependant but when the tide is high you may have to wade through the water.
2) Karangahake Gorge
This natural gorge is criss-crossed with walkways and trails, both long and short, which take you through stunning scenery and help you explore the area’s gold-mining history. You can walk through tunnels with man-made ‘windows’ blasted out, pass old gold-mine machinery and buildings and even visit a waterfall. A river runs through the bottom of the gorge which at times will seem far far below you.
The whole walkway is broken up into sections which you can walk or cycle and i-SITES (tourist information) can provide free maps of route options and literature which explain what you are seeing.
3) Driving Creek Railway and Potteries
Hop on board the little train at Driving Creek Railway and enjoy a wonderful journey through Kauri forests passing over viaducts and through tunnels until you reach the mountain top and a viewing tower. The terrain is such that conventional turns are impossible at times so the track has a series of reversing points. The train pulls in, the driver swaps ends and off you go again. At the top of the mountain you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Hauraki Gulf and the many islands which are dotted about.
4) Hot Water Beach
This Pacific Ocean side sandy beach is beautiful but there is an extra reason why so many visitors and Kiwis choose this beach over the many other stunning Coromandel beaches on offer. At two hours either side of low tide you can dig a hole in the sand and make yourself your very own hot water spa pool thanks to the underground springs which are present here. Every high tide wipes away all the evidence of digging so the next batch of spa seekers can start all over again.
5) Coromandel Town
Although it is one of the largest of the Coromandel settlements, this pretty town has a definite backwater sleepy feel to it. You can wander around and just soak up the atmosphere of a place which was once part of the busiest and most lucrative gold mining areas of New Zealand. Alternatively, you can sit at a street café and watch the world pass (slowly) before you. There is a thriving arts and crafts scene, a small museum and a number of activities and tours on offer – the range of which belie the town’s small size. The i-SITE located here has all the information you could possibly need.
6) Glass Bottom Boat Trip
A glass bottom boat leaves daily from the Whitianga wharf which quite literally gives you a window on the underwater world of the Coromandel coast. As well as seeing what is below the water (and there’s lots, the ocean here is teeming with life) you may also get to see penguins, New Zealand fur seals, dolphins and even orca (killer whales). For those who are tempted to immerse themselves completely in these clear waters then there is also the opportunity to snorkel from the boat.
7) Stand-up Paddle Boarding the Coast
Stand up paddle surfing (or SUP for short), which has its roots in traditional surfing, has become one of the fastest growing water sports on the planet. It is extremely easy to learn and can be enjoyed on completely flat water, unlike traditional surfing. The beautiful coastal waters of the Coromandel with its inlets, secluded coves, estuaries, sea caves and secret lagoons are an ideal playground for flat water SUP. From Whangamata you can either rent equipment and explore on your own or take a package which offers lessons and/or guided cruises.
8) Waiau Kauri Grove and Waterfall
Your track through the Kauri forest is a range of walkways and footbridges which make the going easy and allow you a leisurely amble through nature rather than a high energy hike. There is also access to the Waiau Falls which has a fairytale-like glade setting. It’s not big, as New Zealand waterfalls go, but it is extremely pretty and you can swim in the pool at the bottom (if you don’t mind the chilly waters).
9) Victoria Battery
Dating from the late 1800s, this gold mine company owned site was once home to New Zealand’s largest industrial complex, complete with workshops, sawmill and giant stampers used to crush rock and extract gold. Now it is just a series of evocatively ruined buildings which nature is trying hard to claim back. If you manage to get this place to yourself then it is very atmospheric.
10) Argo Tours
Forget 4×4, the Argo amphibious vehicles you are taken in are 8×8 vehicles. The idea is that you will really get off the beaten track to explore the Coromandel in a go-anywhere vehicle which has access to private land. The best thing of all is that there is no set route or schedule so if there is something you would like to see or have a particular interest in then just ask.
Please contact the specialist tour operator New Zealand Vacations for more detailed information and travel advice about what to do and where and when to go. It’s got to be one of our favourite places to visit.