- A seaside settlement 18km north of Whitianga (approximately 10 minutes drive). It has a local convenience store (dairy), a well regarded cafe / art gallery / local meeting spot.
- Luke’s Kitchen and is locally famous for its ice cream. The area is the home for a number of artists including internationally significant painters such as Michael Smither. And for the perfect beach photo plan to visit Otama beach.
- Check art and crafts trail Kuaotunu
State Highway 25 north from Whitianga or east from Coromandel town.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Black Jack Reserve a perfect place for a family cricket match
- Ice creams and Luke’s Kitchen
- Estuary and bird life, from dotterels to petrels
- Kuaotunu Bird Rescue | Kuaotunu Bird Rescue
- Kuaotunu Backyard Trappers Group (to eliminate mammalian pests)
- Boat ramp for fishing buffs
Stargazers have a special treat with Stargazers B&B accommodation and Astronomy Tours Kuaotunu – Whitianga. Accommodation plus specialised astronomy equipment to enjoy unpolluted night skies.
Explore local bush walks, Waitaia and Rings beach. Historic Kuaotunu Hall (see Travel Pack Section for details) check if it is open to view heritage photographs. In the summer there is a weekend market on the Kuaotunu Reserve (Black Jack Reserve).
The historic cemetery at Kuaotunu was in use from 1892 to 1943. Sixty-seven pioneers are buried there, however very few headstones are still standing and the cemetery is now considerably overgrown. The cemetery is located at the end of Cemetery Lane.
KUAOTUNU BEACH is a shallow sandy beach with a river estuary providing kids with lots to explore. Dotterels (birds) nest in the dunes take care not to disturb nests. Keep your eyes peeled on the sea horizon for dolphins.
Want a secluded beach then OTAMA BEACH is perfect.Otama is a glorious stretch of white / gold sand, shallow lapping blue water and fringed by pohutukawa trees. Combined with a natural large dune system, wetlands and no crowds is the ideal place for photographers.
GETTING TO OTAMA BEACH
Access is via Black Jack Road, starting from State Highway 25 at Kuaotunu, which is sealed up to the start of Otama Beach. It continues as a gravel road further east towards Opito Bay. Walking track largely follows the gravel road, be careful as there are a number of blind corners. Otama Beach has a scattering of holiday homes and a few permanent residents.
The dunes and the wetland nature reserve behind it are protected, containing delicate flora such as the rare sand tussock Austrofestuca littoralis, and nesting areas of the endangered New Zealand dotterel.
OTAMA RESERVES GROUP (TRUST) “vision of a “bush to beach” corridor free of weeds and pests is driving the efforts of eastern Coromandel’s Otama Reserves Group” “Bush to beach” corridor the aim for Otama Reserves Group
SOCIAL MEDIA OTAMA
TIP: Nearest public toilets are in Black Jack Reserve, Kuaotunu.
TIP: The white sand squeaks when you walk barefoot on the sand.
OPITO BAY is the next bay over from Otama, looking out to the islands, a long sweeping beach and safe swimming. This long, sandy beach has 196 steps to a Maori pa site on the southeast end, plus a short side track to Crayfish Bay. The track is 9km (loop). Easy grade. Opito is a crescent shaped sandy beach, with 196 steps on the southeast end that zigzags up to a pa site with pits and terraces.
HISTORIC PA SITE
Take care walking through the long grass due to the uneven terrain. There is also a 10-min track to visit Crayfish Bay via farmland (no dogs) about 150m from the southeast end and an interesting rocky west end worth exploring at low tide.Park at Skippers Rd Reserve, or continue on Opito Bay Rd for 2 km to the reserve on Moore Cres (toilet available). For more information about the pa site check Opito Point Pa: Whitianga area for details.
BEST TIME TO GO
- Shoulder season when the summer crowds have lessened
- In summer remember to carry insect repellent, water, hat and sunscreen
WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS
- Ice cream & pizza. Just check out Luke’s Kitchen
- Got a kayak explore the beach
- What can you find in the river estuary that is interesting
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- An enormous triple decker ice cream
- Otama Beach where the only footsteps might be yours
- On the swing (check the rope first for obvious damage) overlooking Black Jack Reserve
- Visiting the injured birds at Kuaotunu Bird Rescue
Annemieke Kregting of Kuaotunu Bird Rescue for selflessly volunteering to nurse back to health injured birds
World renown artist Michael Smither (Otama Beach).
Dogs on the beach disturbing fragile nesting sites for the endangered dotterel (bird)
Annemieke, veterinary nurse and the original bird rescue angel of The story of Kuaotunu Bird Rescue
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE
The name means ‘to inspire fear in young animals’ or ‘roasted young’, probably relating to the good hunting and fishing grounds in the area. Kuaotunu has been settled for a long time – evidence of the first Maori settlers is still highly visible today. While there are now fewer than a few hundred permanent residents, in the late 1890’s the town’s population swelled considerably when gold was found in the area.
WHAT KEEPS THE PLACE TICKING
Seasonal summer tourists
Quintessential summer destination that is off the beaten path
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
History of the Kuaotunu Hall
Officially known as the Kuaotunu Centennial Memorial Hall, the Kuaotunu Hall has a Category 2 listing with the NZ Historic Places Trust
A Long and Proud History
The hall building was built circa 1896/1897 as an addition to the Kuaotunu School, for use as the infants’ room.
The school had peaked at 136 pupils in 1897, but as a result of the gold mining activity in the area drying up, its roll had dwindled to only a few pupils by the end of the 1930’s.
On the 28th of February 1939 a public meeting was held in Kuaotunu to discuss how to celebrate the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1940.
A Kuaotunu Centenary Celebrations Committee was formed, and with the district’s share of the funds awarded for centennial celebrations (the princely sum of £10), it was decided that the memorial should be “a social hall incorporating a library”.
A church, St Columcille’s, (1893) was built, when the town had approximately 2,000 inhabitants. The church cost 100 pounds to build, and was inaugurated free of debt. The material for the Roman Catholic Church at Kūaotunu arrived in January 1893 by ship, and was carted from the beach to the site near to the public school. The building was disassembled in 1954 and re-erected at Tairu.
NAME BLACK JACK …?
The deposit contains alunite, quartz after platy calcite, kaolinite, pyrite, adularia, trace pyrrhotite, and gold, in chalcedonic silica pipes in a sinter deposit.
The mine is said to be close to the eastern edge of the Kuaotunu town, on a high bluff close to the sea, and along the coast here now is the Black Jack conservation reserve. Mindat co-ordinates are very approximate, and only denote the general area. The name of the mine is stated as coming from the dark coloured rock at the site, however it is tempting to think it relates to the names of its early owners, who by a happy coincidence some have coloured surnames.
In 1891, the mine produced 30 tonnes of ore for 28 ounces of gold. The mine operated intermittently across the 1890’s.
The lease was developed from 1889, by A. White and party. In 1892, the lease was worked by Rowe and party. Across at least 1891 to 1894, A.G.S. Black and Pierce take out 70 tonnes of ore. Black suggests electricity could be generated for the mines by installing windmills on the hills, and is almost laughed out of town. A man born over one hundred years too early.