Things to Do in Coromandel
Only a couple of hours drive from New Zealand's largest city, the Coromandel Peninsula is where kiwis go to relax, to play, or to have an adventure. One laid-back community after the next, a Coromandel road trip produces endless surprises. Below, we highlight some of our favourite things to do in Coromandel.
Coromandel road trip: Thames to Coromandel town
Although we began this segment of our adventure in Thames, we spent our first night in Coromandel town. The latter is a fabulous artist community that reminds me of Raglan. In both towns, the relaxed atmosphere is contagious, and creativity can be seen everywhere. What to do in Thames
Coastal Thames is the gateway to the Coromandel peninsula. A former gold mining town, it is loaded with heritage buildings and several former gold mining sites. Towering over the town is a WWI memorial. Seen from just about everywhere, it also offers lovely views of the town itself.
Driving Thames to Coromandel
Everchanging, yet always awe-inspiring, the drive north along the western coast of the Coromandel Peninsula is a scenic delight. Coastal beaches intertwined with jagged cliffs offer an endless array of views. The windy roads have frequent pullouts, and as photographers, we found ourselves frequently stopping for another shot.
Coromandel road trip: The 309 Road (Coromandel town to Whitianga)
There are two routes across the peninsula. We chose the 309, which is not your typical motorway, but rather a taste of rural New Zealand. It's a mostly unpaved road (called metals in NZ) that locals will tell you is named for its 309 curves during the 20-kilometre scenic journey.If you are not comfortable driving on narrow, windy, gravel roads, you would do better to take State Highway 25, also called the Pacific Coast Highway. However, if you are ready for an adventure, or just don't mind the less than ideal road, here are some of the treasures you will find, in order from Coromandel town to Whitianga.
Stu Edmondson's Pig Farm
Love them or hate them, there is nothing quite like seeing a litter of piglets following their mother across the road. And, since they were in the middle of the road, we knew when we were here. We simply pulled over, snapped a few shots, and were on our way.
The Waterworks, Coromandel
Quirky fun, this is not just a place for kids. Everything you see is 100% water-powered and highlights some impressive engineering, both modern and ancient. They call themselves a theme park, but we found it more of a fun hands-on adventure. The concept behind the park is to create something new from something old. In fact, 70% of the materials used in construction are recycled. In short, it's a fun stop. Allocate about 90 minutes if you just want to enjoy the kiwi ingenuity. Or, bring the family, a picnic, and even your pets and spend the day enjoying water slides, interactive water fun, and swimming holes.
Kauri Grove Lookout Walk
Another 1/2 km up the road is the trailhead for the Kauri Grove lookout walk. Important to note, if you are coming from Coromandel, the signage is missing; therefore, you want to keep a lookout for a small car park on the right-hand side of the road. Cross the road, and there is a signpost at the start of the walking track so you know its the right spot. It takes about 30 minutes to walk along the peninsula's most accessible track to see a mature kauri stand.One of the grove's highlights is a 'siamese' kauri, which was originally two trees but now forks just above the ground.