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Are you interested in visiting Coromandel Town on New Zealand’s North Island? Use my extensive list of the best things to do in Coromandel Town and start planning your trip…
Coromandel Town is a special place. It attracts creative souls and spiritual seekers and fosters a community of both. You won’t find a McDonald’s or any big chains in this small town, just friendly local businesses housed in lovingly restored historic buildings.
And while the town center is lovely, the real magic is in the surrounding nature that Coromandel Town is nestled in. The native bush-covered hills, rugged coastline with bright turquoise ocean, and small offshore islands make this place really special.
Located in the north of the Coromandel Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island, Coromandel Town is the heart and soul of the peninsula and its oldest established settlement. Formally an important port for the region’s gold mining and kauri industries, tourism and mussel farming are now king here.
There are lots of things to do in Coromandel Town if you love the outdoors, art, and seafood. I put together a list of the very best things to do in and around town to get the most out of your stay. Enjoy!
Top Things To Do in Coromandel Town
1) Stay at Buffalo Lodge
Number one on the list is to stay at Buffalo Lodge, a gorgeous boutique bed and breakfast. While Buffalo Lodge is located only a short 5-minute drive from town, it feels like a world away.
This stunning property is situated in the hills behind town surrounded by beautiful native bush and has sweeping ocean views.
I spent two nights at Buffalo Lodge and loved relaxing with a book in the cozy library, watching the sunset over the ocean with a beer from the expansive deck, the lovingly prepared breakfast buffet with local, artisan, and homemade treats, and waking to the sound of native birdsong.
A big part of why I loved my stay in Coromandel Town so much was because I stayed at Buffalo Lodge, and staying here is definitely one of the best things to do in Coromandel Town.
2) Try Some Local Kaimoana
Coromandel is the perfect place to try some of the North Island’s delicious seafood (kaimoana) with numerous excellent seafood restaurants and takeaways, and even a mussel farm.
The best places to try local kaimoana are Coromandel Takeaways in the town center for their excellent fish and chips, Coromandel Oyster Company and Minos Mussel Kitchen for local oysters and mussels and other delicious seafood dishes, and The Coromandel Smoking Co for smoked fish and shellfish.
3) Go For a Hike
One of my favorite things to do in Coromandel Town is to take a hike on one of the numerous trails in and around town. My favorite hike is the Long Bay Kauri walk which takes you between two of the prettiest beaches in the area along a peaceful trail with coastal views and through native bush.
This is also the best hike to see Kauri, New Zealand’s largest tree by volume, with an imposing 1,200-year-old specimen just off the trail. The walk is short at only 1.2 miles so it is suitable for all ages.
Other pretty trails in town are the Kauri Block Walk and the Harray Track, both of which also have sea views and are through native bush.
4) Have a Quirky Experience at The Waterworks
A visit to The Waterworks is one of the very best things to do in Coromandel Town if you have kids, and one of the more unusual. Proudly calling itself the quirkiest place in New Zealand, The Waterworks is part water park, part interactive art installation, and it is the most fun place in Coromandel to cool down on a hot summer day.
There are over 70 attractions to entertain you including some crazy inventions, two swimming holes, and a giant waterslide. Pack a lunch or eat at the cafe onsite – you are going to want to spend a whole day here.
5) Explore the Historic Town Center
Coromandel Town is the prettiest town on the Coromandel Peninsula and it’s a very pleasant place to wander around, checking out the boutiques and tasteful gift shops housed in restored buildings that hark back to its Gold Rush days.
If you love history, don’t miss the 90-minute Boom, Bust, and Beyond walking tour, and if you love art, make sure to visit the numerous art galleries on the outskirts of town.
6) Go For a Scenic Train Ride at Driving Creek Railway
Can you say you have really been to Coromandel Town if you haven’t visited its most famous attraction, Driving Creek Railway? I don’t know. You should definitely visit either way.
Driving Creek Railway is a truly unique attraction and an impressive accomplishment that only came to exist because of one man’s determination and creativity.
Barry Brickell, a handcraft potter, purchased the land back in 1973 and since then completely reforested it with native bush, created a pottery studio, and built a narrow-gauge railway which started as a way to transport clay down from the mountain but became a tourist attraction when it opened to the public in the early 1980s. Barry died in 2016 but the business is still going strong.
At Driving Creek Railway, you can take a ride on New Zealand’s only mountain railway, crossing bridges and passing through tunnels to a viewing tower with spectacular views across the Coromandel. You can also take a ziplining adventure, go on a hike, and buy pottery onsite.
7) Swim at a Local Beach
You can’t go to the Coromandel Peninsula and not swim at a beach – it is home to some of the best beaches in New Zealand after all.
Coromandel Town has easy access to some of the top beaches in the area including Whangapoua and Matarangi, as well as some lovely beaches right in town where you can escape the summer crowds at the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula.
Don’t miss swimming in the gorgeous turquoise waters at Long Bay, Tucks Bay, or Shelly Beach, all just a few minutes drive north of Coromandel Town Center.
8) Relax and Realign at a Retreat
The Coromandel Peninsula is known for its many retreat centers, but one of the best is Mana Retreat just outside of Coromandel Town. Mana Retreat focuses on wellness, mind-body education, and renewal, holding a number of retreats and events throughout the year.
Time your visit to Coromandel Town to coincide with one of their excellent events or retreats, or do a work exchange here if you want to stay longer.
9) Hike To New Chums Beach, One of the Best Beaches in the World
Rated as one of the best beaches in the world, pristine New Chums Beach is reached by hiking from sleepy Whangapoua, a scenic 25-minute drive from Coromandel Town.
Set in 145 hectares of native forest, New Chums Beach is undeveloped and untouched, a perfect crescent of pale sand and emerald water, backed by dense native bush. Getting there involves wading through an estuary at the northern end of Whangapoua Beach, followed by a 30-minute scramble along a rugged trail. Stop at the Whangapoua lookout point for the best view over the beach.
Take caution when swimming as there can be dangerous currents, and cross the estuary two hours on either side of low tide when the water is at its lowest. Strolling these wild sands makes you feel far away from the rest of the world, in a good way.
10) Spend a Day on a Fishing Charter
The abundant waters around Coromandel Town are one of the best spots to go fishing and there are many businesses in town offering half-day and full-day fishing charters. You have a good chance to catch snapper and kingfish, but it is a fun day out on a boat enjoying the beautiful coastal scenery regardless.
Thanks to the excellent Buffalo Lodge for hosting me in Coromandel Town. All opinions are most definitely my own.
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