Given its close proximity to our hometown of Hamilton, this part of the Coromandel is one that we visit often. New Zealand summers don’t only have to be about the beach so we usually like to make a stop at the Karangahake Gorge, just past Paeroa. The gorge is stunning and there are some nice walks around the area to explore the old mining tunnels. One such walk is at nearby Dickey Flat, take a short walk over a suspension bridge and through an abandoned mine shaft to Dickey Flat Waterfalls. At the waterfalls you can climb up onto them and go cliff jumping into the cold river water.
A mere 20 minute drive from the Karangahake Gorge is Waihi Beach where we spend a bit of time every summer. Luckily for us we have some great friends with some places there that we stay in, however, there are quite a few accommodation options if you need. It can get pretty pricey in the summer so I would recommend getting a group together to rent a house or to book a camping spot at the holiday park well in advance. The becah here is all white sand and waves and is a favourite spot of ours. The small town itself is cute and often has concerts on in the Summer at the Waihi Beach Hotel. If you park your car down by the surf lifesaving club at Waihi Beach you can then take a nice and easy 30 minute walk over the hill to Orokawa Bay. This beach is great at low tide and is usually pretty empty. It’s a beautiful spot to spend a few hours relaxing and swimming.
Whangamata is another favourite Summer spot of ours being only 45 minutes from Waihi Beach. We have the same sweet deal here for accommodation with a few friends, however, its the same as Waihi Beach in terms of renting a house with a group of friends if you need. We love Whangamata for its beautiful, tropical beach and its laid back vibe. At low tide you can even walk out to the small island just offshore, just watch out for rogue stingrays!
A nice side trip from Whangamata is to head a little bit further north to Onemana hill, hang right at the top, drive until you hit a fork and go left. Not sure on the name of the beach (or if it even has one) but the beach itself is a steep 20 minute downhill walk through the forest. Once there you have the place to yourself, so set up a volleyball net, take some beers and chill on the beach. Its not the best place for swimming as the waves break really close to the shore, so be careful if you decide to jump in.
One New Years Eve we decided to do something a bit low key and took our friends boat out near Onemana, just 10 minutes north of Whangamata. We took all our camping gear in the boat and the rest of us walked about an hour and a half down from the Onemana Drive car park to a few bays over from Pakahakaha Bay. It’s a bit hard to get to but if you stick to the tracks you will find your way to some beautiful and deserted spots. We were the only ones there and spent a couple of days chilling, drinking, playing sports and swimming. Paradise.
The Coromandel Peninsula is an idyllic part of the world and a lot of people flock here from all over. This part of the Coromandel is popular with locals as the tourists tend to flock further north up the peninsula. In my opinion it gives a much more genuine and chilled out Coromandel experience. Cost wise it can be pretty pricey if you don’t have accommodation but you can keep costs down by providing your own food and barbecuing every night. You’re looking at NZ$40 a day excluding accommodation).