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There is no bad time to visit The Coromandel, the weather is good year-round, but spring is a favourite. Crisp clear air, long views, limpid water and soft evening light.
Coromandel Town is the northern-most town in The Coromandel, and it is an interesting mix of heritage buildings, gold mining relics, hippy arty vibe and sea-based pursuits. The water is always present. Shapely islands, perfect for exploring by kayak or finding secret fishing spots, shelter in the tranquil harbour of the Hauraki Gulf. The bay is home to oyster farms, and with the mussel farms further down the coast, these attract a wide variety of fish species into the bay, making it the ideal inshore fishing ground. There are several charter fishing boats that will take you for a satisfying trip on the water, departing from Te Kouma at the southern end of the bay.
The gold mining heritage of Coromandel Town is evident. A guided tour of the old Gold Stamper Battery in Buffalo Road and panning for gold in the creek behind the battery is a real pioneering adventure. Its easy to imagine the now silent hills ringing with the unceasing thud of the six head stamper running day and night during the gold glory days, when you could mine enough gold to buy a house in a matter of weeks. There are some handsome architectural specimens still to be seen around the town today.
The main street looks like most rural towns did in days gone by. A couple of handsome hotels, a double row of verandah-fronted stores and the old Assay House building on the corner house a range of utility shops, watering holes and eateries. Fresh seafood is a feature, as you might expect. There is an eclectic range of galleries and studios that reflect the creative nature of this town that has attracted talented artists and crafts folk from around the country.
You shouldn't leave Coromandel Town without visiting the iconic Driving Creek Railway, a narrow-gauge mountain railway and wildlife sanctuary of the same name. The one-hour train ride traverses a series of engineering marvels including viaducts and tunnels, up to a lookout over the bay with panoramic views. The station houses a pottery and art gallery, workshops and brickworks, adjacent to the wildlife sanctuary. With access by ferry from Auckland and two and half hours by car, this quirky, peaceful Coromandel Town feels far from the bustle of every day. But in reality, it’s just down the road from our largest city.
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