Coromandel Peninsular, New Zealand
One of the most beautiful beaches of New Zeland you will not only find in Abel Tasman National Park, but the Coromandel on the North Island has some great beaches too. Cathedral Cove is absolutely stunning. Some islands in the distance and great sandy beaches. If you want you can do some sea kayacking here, which is cheaper than in Abel Tasman National Park.
Home to spectacular scenery and interesting little places with names like Hotwater Beach & Buffalo Beach.
Paeroa is home to ' Lemon & Paeroa ' or L&P, a refreshing soft drink exclusive to New Zealand.
Whitianga, situated at Mercury Bay is one of the larger of the Peninsular towns.
The quiet Coromandel Peninsular is a place where everyone can enjoy the great outdoors - camping, trekking, fishing, boating. The less energetic can soak in a hot pool or simply enjoy the scenery and the relaxed pace of life.
The entry point to Cathedral Cove is sudden as you emerge from beneath a broad tree and suddenly you're there. Crisp white sands form a base from which arises chalk coloured cliffs of naturally sculpted wonder.
Though agog at the unique nature of the cove initially, the highlight for most will be the rock beyond the cave. It's truly magnetic, figuratively speaking of course. The couple of trees clinging desperately to what's left of the soil atop rock simply add to attraction. Turquoise waters lapping at its base only serve to highlight the colour of this scenic attraction par excellence.
The popularity of this place in summer can only be imagined. Where a few people were wandering about while we were there in winter, it must be packed when the sun warms the earth and I can't blame people for wanting to be there. I would certainly return if I'm in the area.
As a tourist, I tend to look for the odd. This time it came to me, via recommendations. "You must go on the railway", we were told, though the directions on how to get there were a little vague.
That it was near Coromandel, the town, was one thing we knew so we headed off.
Finding it was tricky, all because of a signpost at the T-junction in Coromandel (pic 5). Unfortunately, it's got everything listed on it and I missed the train image but headed in the right direction anyway.
Eventually we found it. From subsequent chats I've managed to piece together the story of Barry Bickell, the eccentric potter who once was a schoolteacher.
The way Barry tells it, he left schoolteaching after two terms to pursue his dream of being a potter. The way the rumour has it he was about to be shoved anyway. Whatever, his time had come and he bought what was then a 60 acre block of land, much of it on fairly steep slopes.
At the base he established a pottery workshop but he was also a keen railway enthusiast and he envisioned that a narrow-gauge railway up the sides of his thickly forested plot that would give him access to clay and also pine-wood kiln fuel.
Track laying began in 1975.
Yellow plastic clay derived from the weathering of the old volcanic rocks. The scattered pine trees are self-sown from original pines planted by the early Californian gold diggers of last century. New Zealand's first official gold discovery was made in this district in 1852. Most of the raw materials for the making of terracotta pottery garden wares, tiles and sculpture thus comes from the hills above.
We had never even been in a kayak before, but the guides in Hahei (http://www.seakayaktours.co.nz) were just great! They give you plenty of instruction and encouragement . And the scenery is spectacular and the water is beyond beautiful!
We were lucky enough to have a perfect morning (the previous day and the afternoon trips were both cancelled...). A truly wonderful experience.
One thing you can't fail to notice here and there are embankments made of empty bottles. The rumour around is that Barry drank most of them and the paintwork reading "Barry's" probably reflects that in picture one.
The railway employs around a dozen people these days. It zig-zags up the slopes at seemingly random angles but there was always a purpose, the purpose of dreamers to continually move on to greener fields. Thus it is that the railway today finishes at Eyefull Tower, a wooden platform area with expansive views over Coromandel and beyond, but en route it encompasses overbridges (where you go over the top of where you just came from), zig-zags (where you come to a stop, change the points and then reverse ever higher) and tunnels with bas reliefs, the funniest one being a light, naturally enough placed at the end of one of the tunnels which allows the driver to point "the light at the end of the tunnel".
Another quirk is the toilet at the top partly built with bottles (pic 3).
Somehow, the fact that it cost $20 a head is lost in the delight of riding on someone's dream, a rare pleasure in these days of occupational health and safety.
If you think there might be landslides, there are; but so keen are those who are a part of the scheme that they are repaired in relatively quick time.
The whole journey takes around an hour and, in busy times, you MUST book ahead or risk disappointment. Believe me, this place is popular.
Cathedral Cove was one of three places that continually came up in conversation about Coromandel so it was with malice aforethought that I made for the extensive carpark on the cliff where one alights before commencing the half hour walk to the beach.
It was on a sparkling Sunday when we glanced across the flashing ocean tips to the islands beyond.
The well formed track wound back and forth around the headlands, at times affording rural views, at other times water glimpses.
At one stage we came to a recently lopped tree which you could almost believe had been removed to (a) improve the view and (b) make a poser point for tourists.
If there's one thing I'll never forget about Tairua and New Zealand in general, it's being at the summit of Paku Hill and taking in one of New Zealand's loveliest views. This true all-round panorama is entrancing and worth the walk either from town or the end of the road.
From our accommodation it was only a five minute hike up the steep walk but the reward far outweighed the effort.
While viewing you will be entertained (at no extra charge) by birds if you are fortunate. There were three friendly fantail who continually flitted in close proximity, making for a special encounter with nature. (pic 5)
Though these pictures only give you glimpses of how good it can be, hopefully they'll entice more people to make for this place as one of the must-do's while on the North Island.
The Coromandel is where Kiwis go on holiday! Renowned wordwide for its natural beauty - misty rainforests and pristine golden beaches, the Coromandel is blessed with hundreds of natural hideaways, making it an ideal place to slow down, relax and unwind.
Dig your own hot spa pool in the sand at Hot Water Beach, explore the Coromandel Forest Park, or cruise the islands by boat. Use this official Coromandel website to plan your Coromandel holiday, from accommodation to activities, events and festivals.
Framed by native Pohutukawa trees on the western side, beautiful white sandy beaches on the east and divided by ranges cloaked in native rainforest, the Coromandel’s 400kms of coastline offers the visitor a truly distinctive blend of experiences.
New Zealand is famed for its geothermal activity, with the north island being a major hotspot. Up in the Coromandel Peninsula, not far from Cathedral Cove, is Hotwater Beach- a beach where, as the name suggests, hot water boils up from a subterranean volcano onto the beach. Two hours on either side of low tide (charts can be found pretty much anywhere in this region), everybody goes out with their spades and digs their own natural hot tubs. The view is absolutely spectacular and the hot water itself is amazing, though I will warn you, it is HOT. Being a naive dork, I chose to walk across the hot sand...and I wound up running full-tilt towards the cool ocean within seconds. So, while it's definitely worth it to pay a visit, do heed the signs so you don't become a laughingstock for everybodye else.
Thames is a lovely historical town which lies between the Firth of Thames and the Coromandel ranges. It was at one time a wild colonial gold rush town but today it is the largest commercial centre in the region. The town has lots of cafes, restaurants and old pubs as well as shopping on Pollen Street or in the Goldfields Mall. Just north of the town is the Thames Society of Arts and the Butterfly and Orchid Garden. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Thames.