Travel and Culture

Visiting the Beautiful Coromandel

Lots of Aucklanders go to the Coromandel over the summer.  Not the Coromandel of course but honestly – there are other lovely places to go to in New Zealand. However, the Coromandel is pretty special, and to be fair, it is close to Auckland.

So, off I drove to the Coromandel to join friends for a couple of days who were staying at a place a few kilometres north of Coromandel Town.

The gateway to the Coromandel from the West is Thames – a charming and historic town full of quaint shops in a main street situated in the south-east of the Firth of Thames. The day was sunny and the blue sea sparkled with a thousand diamonds.

I discovered three great second-hand shops in Thames, full of all sorts of interesting goodies. However, there was no time to linger and I didn’t want to buy a bunch of ‘stuff’ right then, so I continued my road trip northwards on the west coast of the Coromandel.

This road of very windy and narrow. It edges the sea on one side and Pohutukawa covered banks and hillsides on the other. Speeding would be stupid and some people were just that, coming over the middle road line with their motorhomes and towed boats. Watch out!  Its rather hairy.

The are some quaint seaside homes and communities appearing every so often on this drive.  The sea is beautiful here and the Pohutukawa were in full, red, summertime bloom. There are occasional hills over which the road transverses, and the views of the Firth of Thames are spectacular.

About an hour or more later, I arrived at Coromandel Town. This is a cute little town which provides the necessities such as groceries and petrol. It has a tiny police station and a number of sweet looking churches. I drove through the town and on to where my friends were staying – a beautiful spot situated right on the seafront. I’d booked a cosy little cabin, so I was set.

One of my friends and I went for a swim. The water was cold to begin but once we got used to it, we floated gently on our backs chatting and catching up on each other’s news. Without us noticing, the tide went out and other swimmers disappeared. When we tried to stand up to walk back to shore, we’d discovered that the sand under the water had turned to mud.  Our legs sank up to our knees. Knee replacements weren’t helpful, and I couldn’t stand.

However, my friend managed to do so. She helped me up and holding hands for balance, we glugged our way through the mud to the safety of the beach. I don’t know what I would have done if my friend wasn’t there to assist. I’d have had to call out for help. A bit like a pitiful Piha rescue moment. Very embarrassing. Anyhow, don’t say I haven’t warned you about the lovely wave covered sand turning into mud.

A great thing to do in Coromandel Town aside from looking at the cute little shops is to visit Diving Creek Railway, a pottery and conservation park and go on the little train. This hour-long trip takes you in a zigzag pattern up to the top of the hill – to ‘Eyeful Tower’ where the views are spectacular.

As the train travels through regenerative native forest, there are little artistic surprises – various pottery works appearing in unexpected spots. Local pottery artists’ work is for sale in the shop from where the train starts and ends its journey and you can also buy coffee, tea and muffins. It’s immensely worthwhile visiting Diving Creek Railway, but I suggest you ring to book as it’s very popular.

There’s lots of explore on the Coromandel. It has beautiful beaches, glorious summery trees, great fishing and kayaking opportunities, rolling hills and lovely views. It’s an arty place which is great if you’re into that. I felt a bit like I was back in the 70s, slightly hippy-ish. It certainly is a gorgeous place to relax in the summertime. I hope you can get the chance to enjoy it as much as I did. Except for the sea mud.

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