Wicked Week­end Get­aways

Let's Travel - - COROMANDEL TOWN - Words and im­ages by Shane Boocock www.coro­man­deld­is­cov­ery.co.nz

Renowned for its nat­u­ral beauty, mist over­laid forests and pris­tine golden beaches, the Coromandel is blessed with many nat­u­ral won­ders and hid­den gems, mak­ing it an ideal place to slow down, re­lax and un­wind. Framed by na­tive Po­hutukawa trees on the western side, beau­ti­ful white sandy beaches on the east and di­vided by ranges and steep gorges cloaked in na­tive sub­trop­i­cal rain­for­est, the Coromandel’s 400 km of coast­line also of­fers the vis­i­tor a truly dis­tinc­tive mix of out­door ex­pe­ri­ences.

Vis­it­ing this part of the coun­try makes a great and af­ford­able short break hol­i­day desti­na­tion with awe­some scenery, safe sandy beaches, boat­ing and fish­ing, arts and crafts, coastal camp­sites, bush walks and charming his­toric town­ship with its laid-back at­mos­phere and a range of af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions.

A favourite desti­na­tion for res­i­dents of Auck­land for generations, the north­ern part of the Coromandel Penin­sula was al­ways known for it’s re­mote­ness but that changes in sum­mer when tourists flock to places like his­toric Coromandel Town where camper­vans, mo­tor­bike riders and trav­ellers lift this tran­quil sea­side town into a buzz-in­duced, wicked week­end desti­na­tion where the pi­o­neer spirit of the past still sur­vives.

Af­ter a visit in 1820 by HMS Coromandel, which dropped an­chor into what is now Coromandel Har­bour to source Kauri spars, the name was be­stowed on what be­came a town and the penin­sula. The ship was ac­tu­ally named af­ter the Coromandel Coast off Madras in In­dia. The dis­cov­ery of gold by Charles Ring at Driv­ing Creek in 1852 shook awake the sleepy tim­ber set­tle­ment as thou­sands of min­ers soon de­scended into the re­gion in search of their for­tune. To­day the town and sur­round­ing area con­tin­ues to flour­ish and grow richer while the main street still re­tains many his­toric old build­ings, min­ing ar­ti­facts and feel-good at­mos­phere from that Vic­to­rian pe­riod.

With its laid-back life­style, Coromandel at­tracts a slew of tal­ented artists and crafts­peo­ple from around the coun­try - in­spired not only by the tran­quil at­mos­phere, but also by the spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral sur­round­ings. Com­ple­ment­ing this cot­tage in­dus­try is a grow­ing num­ber of highly rec­om­mended restau­rants and cafes, as well as com­mer­cial mus­sel and oys­ter farms that sup­ply lo­cal out­lets and take­aways such as the Coromandel Smok­ing Com­pany.

If hik­ing is on your hit list, then Coromandel Town has a range of trails to ex­plore with de­tailed maps avail­able from the In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre in town. The long­est trail is the Suc­cess Track, which has a walk­ing time of 2.5 hours re­turn. The Har­ray Track is listed as 1 hour 10 min­utes one-way. Other lo­cal but shorter tracks to con­sider are: The Kauri Block Track – 45 min­utes one-way, Long Bay Scenic Re­serve and Kauri Grove Track – 40 min­utes re­turn, Tau­matawahine Re­serve – 20 min­utes re­turn and Gold Stam­per Bat­tery Track – 15 min­utes re­turn.

Be­sides coastal walk­ways, en­joy a swim, take a fish­ing trip, rent sea kayaks, and be amazed at the seascapes and marine re­serves, or back on land visit an artist’s stu­dio or re­flect on the her­itage of the re­gion in one of the town’s his­toric mu­se­ums.

The town is lo­cated just a two and a half hour scenic drive from Auck­land, Hamil­ton or Tau­ranga. Al­ter­na­tively take the stress out of driv­ing and take a re­laxed, scenic ferry jour­ney from Auck­land or Wai­heke Is­land in­stead. Op­tions in­clude the Week­ender or the Wan­derer that in­cor­po­rates the Coromandel Coastal Walk­way Tour, a scenic trip to the tip of the penin­sula, in­clud­ing a three to four hour walk.

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