A Classic slice of The Coromandel - New Zealand.
The Coromandel Peninsula points north into the South Pacific ocean from the North Island of New Zealand. Around 1.5 hours drive east of Auckland (or you can catch a ferry from Auckland across the Hauraki Gulf). The Coromandel is treasured and loved by 'Kiwis' - but often overlooked by international visitors.
The Coromandel is a Peninsula of stunning coastline ( one of the more iconic parts, Cathedral Cove, is shown at left), white sand beaches and a rugged interior of bush clad hills rising 500 to 800 meters (2 to 3 thousand feet) out of the sea.
As a Kiwi - American family we travel regularly back to The Coromandel from the US - usually holidaying the Coromandel in February or March, when late summer brings generally settled, warm weather (20-25 c, 70 - 80F) and empty beaches (not that crowds is usually an issue in New Zealand - even in peak season). The exceptions can be between Christmas and New Year at the most popular beach resort towns and around low tide at the aptly named and startling 'Hot Water Beach' - when the receding ocean allows hot water pools to be dug from the sand.
We base ourself out of Whangamata - an iconic Kiwi beach destination - a beautiful surf beach framed by off shore islands, two estuaries’, great surfing but low key and relaxed (see view north along the main surf beach at left). It is also low rise - building restrictions in the Coromandel have kept all buildings in the Peninsular to 3 - 4 stories strictly enforced within a couple of hundred metres of the beach.
The Coromandel Peninsula is around 140 kms south to north (80 miles) and 50kms (30 miles) wide. It can be a couple of day side trip from Auckland or Rotorua on a North Isand trip - or better still a leisurely -7 days to explore the beaches, Kaui Forests, hot pools and towns. The Coromandel is also a great cycling destination. Small towns (of a few hundred people to a 5 or so thousand) dot the Peninsula with Thames, Coromandel Township, Whitianga and Whangamata being the largest - all around an hour or so drive - or a half days' cycle apart (on windy. coastal or hill roads). The penninsula is usually combined with the fertile Hauraki Plains and District (including Paeroa and the Karangahake Gorge) in being described as 'The Coromandel'.
Dubbed by Maori - Te Ika o Maui - 'the hook of Maui' - the shape of Coromandel is the mythical fish hook used by Maui (the Polynesian mythical hero) in the creation story of New Zealand (when the North Island was fished out of the ocean from the Maui's canor or Waka - the South Island).