Where to go and best things to do
The Coromandel is a kid’s idea of a holiday. Rather than a carousel of themed entertainment the Coromandel offers a chance to explore a gold mine, observe quirky pottery in a working studio at Driving Creek, try your hand at mountain biking, experience the marine environment from sandy beaches to kayaking to a marine sanctuary and perhaps one of the best farm experiences in New Zealand.
GOLD MINE EXPERIENCE – TUNNELS WHERE CHILDREN WORKED
The mine tour is not steep or deep underground. While it is dark, the lighting ensures you are able to easily see the tunnels, the supporting beams and hear the story of how the tunnels were constructed, the length of time spent underground. A highlight for kids is the child model and the tale of how the child worked for up to three weeks in the darkened tunnels pushing heavy carts on underground railroad tracks.
The working stamp battery, the din and heavy thumping of the battery complete with hard hats is another visitor highlight.
DRIVING CREEK RAILWAY AND POTTERY (Coromandel town)
Fascinating for kids as the miniature railway wends its way through the bush with pottery at home among the ferns and fronds. It is fun for all age groups with a serious dose of art on the side. The pottery and adjoining art gallery could be of interest to kids with an artistic streak. There is a kids art class workshop.
WATERWORKS (SUMMER) (Route 380)
Where to get wet and wild is encouraged. And your pooch is also welcome. The Waterworks is a quirky playground where kids are invited to pedal to nowhere on a flying fox or enjoy the swimming hole in the Wairau River. Bringing your own food for a picnic is part of the experience with an onsite cafe for those who wish to relax. There are BBQ pits for a sausage sizzle and plenty of safe tap water to drink.
Hahei beach offers an estuary to paddle in, explore the stream banks and a safe swimming beach. There are toilets, lifeguards in summer and a local dairy selling ice creams. Beach access is a short easy walk from the carpark. For enthusiasts who wish to snap the instagram worthy Cathedral Cove moment the kids will need assistance accessing Cathedral Cove as the path is steep in parts. Kids trudging slowly behind caregivers on a hot summer day spoils the beach vibe for everyone.
For more beach inspiration check top 6 beaches in the Coromandel.
SEA KAYAKING (Whangamata)
Kayak under the supervision of a guide to Whenuakura wildlife sanctuary and Donut Island. The lagoon is accessible by water. A collapsed volcano and erosion has created a unique marine world where kayakers, on a two hour guided tour unlock the secrets of Donut Island. There are double kayaks for kids and parents. Check with Donut Island Kayak Hire for details and season programmes. Booking is essential.
CYCLE (BIKE) MOUNTAIN TRAILS
There are coastal trails shared with walkers as well as dedicated mountain bike trails. Peddle and paddle hire E-bikes, mountain bikes and general purpose bikes for all age groups. Check with Peddle and Paddle for inspiration where to go mountain biking.
- WHANGAMATA RIDGES MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK, The park has single track trails for all levels of riders from grade 2- 5 single track trails, ideal for families or advanced riders looking for a challenge.
- Whangamata beach loop is a family-friendly circuit that weaves through the outskirts of Whangamatā past the harbour, through parks and the sand dunes via the road, footpaths and man-made trails on the beachfront.
- Peninsular road lookout ride is a 30km return ride from Whangamatā with a combination of tar sealed and gravel roads. If you are looking for a shorter ride or are not comfortable riding on the highway, you can transport your bikes and begin your ride at the turn off to Peninsula road.
- Hauraki Rail Trail drop off and pick up can be pre-booked with Pedal & Paddle. The scenic trails wind their way through some of New Zealand’s best scenery and are made up of 5 sections over 160km of easy grade one trails.
Source Peddle and Paddle online resource.
Surf n Stay Surf School (Whangamata)
For confident swimmers this is an ideal introduction to surfing. NZ Surf and Stay has a maximum of six learners with an experienced instructor creating a personal holiday experience. The school operates year round and hires water sport equipment. Surf n Stay beach villa is very welcoming and sandy feet are not a problem.
STAND UP PADDLE BOARDS (SUP) KAYAKING OTAHU ESTUARY
Estuaries are a rich wildlife area and the Otahu River’s calm waters will not disappoint. The twisted trunks of pohutukawa trees as they dip into the water. Estuary birds, waders, fish and even the odd eel can be seen during the two hour journey.
A bit of river history:
According to local lore, at the junction of the Waiharakeke and Parakiwai rivers, the nineteenth century Maori warrior Te Kooti found refugee after the New Zealand.
Te Whanganui o Hei Snorkel Trail or Gemstone Bay Snorkeling Trail
Snorkel the marine reserve under the safe hands of Cathedral Dive and Snorkel.
- Only a 5-10 minute walk from the main Cathedral Cove car park
- Marker buoys with handles and information panels on the sides have been anchored 50 to 150 metres off the boulder shoreline of Gemstone Bay. This makes it easy for snorkelers to explore the marine life.
- This area boasts an abundance of contented snapper, with large rays in the summer and oversized crayfish lurking under the shadowy ledges. Maximum depth is around 5-6m and the bay is sheltered from most wind.
Get tips on the best places to snorkel and what to look out for.
Coromandel Zipline Tours
Diving Creek is home to adrenaline laced exhiliteration, ziplining.
Coromandel Zipline Tours is sustainable tourism with Coromandel Zipline Tours a fully charitable company with all the profits from your tour going towards restoring and preserving New Zealand’s native forests and supporting the New Zealand clay arts.
Gold Discovery Centre (WAIHI)
Discover an enormous hole in the ground at a working gold mine. The centre aptly describes the experience as, ‘get the inside story and get the inside story. Waihi has been famous for its gold since 1878 and we have a compelling story to tell … spans three centuries of gold prospecting with an overview of our historic and modern gold mining eras. You’ll be amazed by the hardships faced, and perseverance shown by the early miners and their families and astonished by the modern technology and the scale of gold mining in the 21st century.
OUTSTANDING FARM EXPERIENCE FOR KIDS
Bullswool Heritage Farm (Waihi)
Not just a regular farm animal experience as kids get to meet rare breed farm animals. Bullswool Farm Heritage Park is outstanding. Visitors are introduced to a working farm, its heritage wool shed and outdoor displays as well as an award winning native bird reserve. The kids will be intrigued that a paddock can be played in with slides, a pirate ship and tracks where things go bump.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE