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The Coromandel offers some of the most stunning scenic and natural outdoor experiences that New Zealand has to offer and there are many fabulous destinations and activities that are well advertised such as Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove which are everything they promise to be. But, if you are looking for something; just that little bit more off the beaten track, a little less known about, completely affordable, and fun that the whole family can participate in, we recommend you take time to head to Kuaotunu, Otama Beach and Opito Bay.
Kuaotunu – Beach, Food and Fun
Kuaotunu is a small village that is 13 mins north from Whitianga or 30 mins east from Coromandel Town. Here you can find freedom camping spots, camping grounds or a range of holiday houses and motel accommodation. Turn off into the Kuaotunu Town Centre and you’ll find the local reserve where you can then park, open the doors and let the kids run free. A gorgeous inlet river provides endless entertainment, and there is a glorious beach, rock pools at low tide and a fantastic coastal town vibe. Once you have had sufficient beach time head along to Luke’s Kitchen Restaurant right next door, for some delicious authentic wood fired pizza and fantastic family friendly and affordable atmosphere. It is open 3 days over the weekend in winter, and 7 days over summer. There is also a groovy café/gallery next door with award winning coffee. After this, if you all happen to still have some room in your tummy why not dare a family member to eat a ‘Kuaotunu Killer’ Ice-cream. Warning: it is 5 huge scoops and only for the most stoic of ice cream eaters!
Otama - Golden Sand Paradise
We don’t recommend you try to eat the icecream just before you head over Black Jack Road though. This road is steep, narrow and winding and it has gravel in parts so drive carefully, however the beaches that you will find on the other side will leave your jaw gaping. Head towards the small cluster of housing at Otama Beach and you will find a grass Reserve. Head down the cliffs and you’ll think you have stumbled upon Utopia itself. The golden sand, the gentle surf, the incredible overhanging Pohutakawa trees clinging to clay cliffs all make for an incredible natural playground. Try; skim boarding on a boogie board along the water’s edge, boogie boarding or surfing in the waves, swinging from the epic rope swing, playing for hours in the incredible natural tree root huts, sliding down the clay cliffs, and walking the golden stretches of sand while absorbing the days sunshine and surrounding beauty. And no doubt, you’ll hardly have to share it with another soul as it is secluded and special.
Optio – Sea, Walks, and Views
As if this area isn’t enough to satisfy even the most hardcore of beach lovers, you can then enjoy yourself even more by taking a further careful drive over the hill toward Opito. Here you can explore the crystal clear waters via kayak or swim, beach walk, boogie board and may even be lucky enough to do so with the dolphins and whales that are known to frequent this spot on occasion. This beach provides super safe swimming for kids with amazingly clear water. You can take a short walk up some steep but well maintained steps at the end of the beach to gain a spectacular horizon view that is speckled with Islands. Optio Bay is at the end of the road. There are no eating facilities there so you will need to head back over the hill to Kuaotunu to carry on around the Coromandel but, if you can afford the time this little detour off the main beaten track will reward you with astounding beauty and an area that is a family friendly safe and natural paradise.