Sprint down the hard-packed golden sand, which sparkles like a billion silica crystals under a brilliant sun; dive into clear water, swim to a smooth rock ledge and admire the view.

A gigantic arched cavern separates your luxurious beach from Mare’s Leg Cove. Through the yawning cavern are views of lush native forest on the Whitianga shoreline. Offshore is a pristine marine reserve, alive with many species of sea life.

This idyllic picture of the unspoiled eastern fringe of the Coromandel Peninsula is true to life, as the Hahei area boasts the finest beaches in the region. Coastal towns like Whitianga, Tairua, Pauanui, Whangamata and Waihi, are all blessed with beautiful beaches that act as a magnet for outdoor lifestyle seekers and holiday makers. The western shores from Thames to Colville have scenic appeal too, with their overhanging pohutukawa trees, but nothing can match the luxury of lazing the day away in the eastern coves and bays.

Hot Water Beach is a prime example of salubrious sunbathing and soaking in your own personal spa bath. Hot thermal waters bubble up in the sand at low tide, so you merely scrape out a circular pool and luxuriate to your heart’s desire, cooling down at intervals in the nearby surf. That’s the Coromandel lifestyle.

The peninsula was named after HMS Coromandel, an early sailing vessel that boarded kauri spars destined for the Royal Navy. A few remnant kauri forests remain in the hinterland along with fascinating kauri dams and other relics of the logging and gold-mining eras.

Other inland scenic attractions include the exhilarating Driving Creek Railway, a narrow-gauge line, which climbs high into the bush above Coromandel township and provides fine coastal views. Mt Moehau, at the northern tip of the peninsula, is a 5-6 hour return climb and offers the best scenic panorama of the Auckland region. Its visual compass extends to the Poor Knights Islands to the north, Slipper Island to the south and across the Hauraki Gulf Islands to the city Sky Tower.

A road map or postcard cannot really do justice to this thrusting, mountainous finger of land within two hour’s drive of Auckland. It’s a special place for exploring or just relaxing in an incredibly beautiful landscape.