When I first started looking up places to go in New Zealand, Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Peninsula region was one of the coolest-looking places to visit; however, with a two-hour round trip hike time, a remote location and a tight schedule, I was a little bit wary about making the stop. I eventually decided to do it (and I shaved down the time to about an hour and fifteen minutes), and I couldn't be happier that I did. I went early in the morning so it wasn't crowded, and it was mind-bogglingly beautiful: a massive cave open to both sides, and a white sand beach surrounded by white cliffs that made you feel like a castaway. It's definitely worth it; don't be dissuaded by the hike time. The path has its ups and downs, since it meanders along the cliffs, so you should be in passable physical condition. An added bonus? The first bit of the new Chronicles of Narnia movie was filmed in this location!
Gemstone Bay is en route to Cathedral Cove, a short detour down to a small beach, but don't expect any sand.
The Bay is simply large rocks and boulders, though many are quite pretty, fringed with pine and Pohutakawa trees. The emerald waters are exceptionally clear and are great for diving and snorkelling.
You may see cuttlefish, moki, kina and shoals of tiny silvery fish along with crustaceans. Cormorants are common and, further out, you might get to see the spectacular diving gannets (boobys) seeking their prey.
Me, I was content to splash some water over the dormant rocks and see what colours came to light.
It's a difficult place if you're not too steady on your feet as the rocks aren't all stable, so take care.
Tairua is a small village on the east side of Coromandel with a lovely beach, a lot of accommodation and restaurants. It is located rather close to other sights on Coromandel.
Very easy accessible from Tairua along Paku Drive is Paku Hill, an old volcanic cone and long time ago an island. From the car park at the end of the road is a steep climb of about 15 minutes to the summit.
Our reward were breathtaking views. On one side the Pacific Ocean with some islands as Slipper, Shoe and Aldermen Islands and the rugged Coromandel coast; on the other side Pauanui and its sandspit, Tairua River and the skyline of the Coromandel Ranges.
Tairua is located at the east side of Coromandel Peninsula on SH25.
Driving on SH25 take the Opoutere turn off (between Whangamata and Hikuai), after a couple of km's is a car park. From the car park follow the track over the bridge and through a nice smelling pine forest. Suddenly we stand on the dunes and reach a splendid beach: so quiet, so remote and with almost white sand.
Stroll along the water line and look for shells, seahorses and ...... much more.
At the end of the beach (to the south) is the Wharakawa Harbour Wildlife Reserve.
Return to the car park along the inlet.
For more info and pics see my Coromandel page.
First check your car rental agreement, because some companies don't allow you to drive the '309'. This gravel road connects Coromandel Town with Whitianga across the peninsula. The road is about 25 km's long and does have at least '487' curves.
So drive careful !!!!
There are a couple of car parks, which allow visitors to make short walks in the bush. One track leads to the Waiau Falls, another will bring you to the kauri grove with just 'young ones' of 600 years (walk takes about 10 minutes).
See for more info and pics my Coromandel page.
Nearby Thames, on SH 25 a couple of km's south of this old mining city, lies the Kauaeranga Valley, a hidden treasure with typical native bush and a lot of tracks. I would call it 'little Coromandel'.
Driving through the Kauaeranga Valley will bring you through typical Coromandel scenery: green native forest, tree ferns, a small river with a very old suspension bridge (take care), several fords, all surrounded by high hills.
In the DOC Visitor Centre you can get information and a map with a lot of (walking)tracks. Choose one to the top of a hill and enjoy the view from your private look-out. Because it is almost sure you will not see anybody else.
Kauaeranga Valley was for us an unexpected experience.
See for more info and pics my Coromandel page.
Try to get across to the Coromandel Peninsular, just South East of Auckland. In fact don't miss this place! View my location pages for more info and photos. This coastline is every yachtie's dream. So many small bays and islands to sail around.
Coromandel has an interesting history, from "greenies" to hoteliers, there is always an interesting viewing over there.
It is common to see foreign visitors, however you still have the feeling of being away from it all, and the bush and remoteness hides the population.
The good thing about this place is that it is not really so far from Auckland.