The Coromandel peninsula region extends from Waihi in the south to Port Jackson in the north. The Coromandel ranges run the length of the peninsular and provide some of the most dramatic bush clad mountain scenery in the North Island. The tallest peak is Mt. Te Aroha at 953 metres.
When gold was discovered in the ranges in the 1850's the population of the area, Coromandel Township in particular, grew very quickly as miners followed the gold rushes of the era. Today there are still known deposits of gold, silver, lead and zinc throughout the ranges but residents and conservationists are unlikely to allow any form of exploitation of the region.
Remote towns, isolated bays and a rich history of pioneers and fortune hunters make this one of the more diverse regions to explore. The west coast of the peninsula drops to the Firth of Thames with steep pohutukawa clad cliffs while the east coast has an abundance of golden sand beaches and inlets.
From Whangapoua you can walk to the breathtaking New Chums Beach – a half hour rock walk for the adventurous! This beach is world famous for its unspoilt beauty and spectacular surroundings. With its sparkling white sand and clear azure water arriving here is like landing on Paradise Island, the perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch! New Chums Walkway is a self-guided 25-30 walk involving crossing a tidal stream and coastal rock hopping. Moderate fitness, balance and agility are required. Getting there is the adventure, arriving at New Chums is your reward!
The Pinnacles Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular overnight walks that offers spectacular views of the Coromandel Peninsula. It can also be completed as a day walk. Located upriver from Thames in the stunning Kaueranga Valley, the track follows original steps constructed in the early 1900s for packhorses transporting natural resources through lush forest. The track remains rich with history from the days of kauri loggers, gum diggers and gold miners who plundered the area for many years.
The track is 12km in total and should take 5-6 hours to walk. The Pinnacles hut is located 5km in and is a modern, serviced, Department of Conservation hut situated on one of the highest peaks in the valley. The hut has 80 bunks as well as cooking, heating, showering and toileting facilities. Make sure to book the Pinnacles Hut ahead of time. A small charge applies to sleep in the hut.
The Coromandel Peninsula is most well-known for its white sandy beaches and idyllic bays. But if you head inland you’ll also find large tracts of rainforest with rivers and spectacular gorges. There are also many remnants from the historic gold mining boom and kauri logging industry. There are endless walks located on the peninsula for all abilities, so for a complete list of walks and to find some located near where you are staying visit the Coromandel Tourism website or the Department of Conservation website. Here are a selection of the more popular.
Cathedral Cove Walk (near Hahei)
This is one of the must-visit destinations on the Coromandel Peninsula and is only accessible by foot or by boat. The track begins in Hahei and takes you to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular coastal scenery. This walk takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes and is 2.5km.
Shakespeare Cliff Lookout (near Cooks Beach)
For fantastic views of Mercury Bay take the short walk to Shakespeare Cliff lookout. There are a number of options to extend this walk by leaving from Ferry landing and following the Maramaratotara Track.
Broken Hills Recreation Area (near Pauanui and Tairua)
Located 19km from Tairua, the Broken Hills Recreation Area is home to many short walks. This picturesque reserve is located along the Tairua River and was once a bustling gold-mining settlement, so walks follow old wagon routes to historic battery sites.
Kauaeranga Valley Short Walks (near Thames)
The Kauaeranga Valley is located east of Thames and its most famous walk is to the Pinnacles which is usually done as an overnight hike. There are many shorter walks in the area which take less than an hour or the Billygoat Circuit which takes 4-5 hours. The walks take you through regenerating native forest and past historic relics from the logging days.
Karangahake Gorge (Between Waihi and Paeroa)
The natural beauty of the Karanagahake Gorge is visible from the road, but stopping to explore some of the walks will lead you to stunning swimming holes, fascinating relics from the gold mining past and spectacular vistas. Two of the more popular walks are the Karangahake Windows Walk (1 hour/ 2.5km) and the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway (2hrs one way).
Kauri Block Track (near Coromandel Township)
Just outside of Coromandel Town this new reserve offers spectacular views in every direction including the coast and inland Coromandel Ranges. Walk takes approximately 45 minutes one way.