The Coromandel Peninsula is a finger-shaped extension of the North Island, just two hours from Auckland but a world apart — defined by mountains clad in hobbitty forest, twisting roads and gorgeous scoops of beach. In some spots hot water bubbles out of the sand; in others, semiprecious gemstones are free for the taking. In the 1970s government land grants led to a number of hippy communes being established on the Peninsula. All but one have gone now but the back-to-the-land ethos is still strong. Fishermen, small-scale farmers and artisan food producers abound. Honey, wine, citrus, avocados, cheese, smoked fish and other handcrafted edibles are available at roadside stands and feature prominently on local menus.
Overlooking picturesque Kuaotunu Beach, Lukes' Kitchen started life in a caravan. Owner Luke Reilly surfed by day and dished up food for locals by night. Today the surf-shack theme unites a cluster of indoor and outdoor spaces anchored by a wood-burning pizza oven. The dress code