Coromandel Peninsula is a narrow finger of land thrusting out into the Pacific Ocean south east of Auckland.
This sea-bound spine of ancient eroded volcanoes protects the placid waters of the ‘City of Sails’. It also serves as a favourite holiday hideaway for busy Aucklanders and a mecca for visitors seeking peace and solitude.
The dramatic unspoilt coastline is the main drawcard, being perfectly suited to soft adventure activities like swimming, surfing, boating, diving and sea kayaking. Scenic bays and hidden coves have fascinating rock gardens and golden sand beaches tucked away behind glorious limestone sculptured headlands. Cathedral Cove at Hahei is a ‘Blue Lagoon’ fantasy scene and further south magical thermal springs bubble up through the sand at Hot Water Beach.
There is ‘water, water everywhere’ from mirror smooth inlets to spray-flecked surf. However, inland kayaking rivers need a period of sustained rainfall to bring their wild rapids to life. The Ohinemuri River is the most prominent waterway, sharply defining the southern boundary of the Coromandel Range between Waihi and Paeroa. This river can be run from any point along the Karangahake Gorge road. The scattered rock clusters and boulder drops generate much nervous excitement as kayakers run a roller coaster ride that can reach Grade 3. Rafting is not popular here, as water volumes are not sufficient until the river reaches dangerous full flood conditions.
The Waitawheta Stream flows into the Ohinemuri just below the Karangahake Gorge. It is not runable in normal flows. When it rises, it can be paddled from a put in across a farm track at the end of Dickies Flat Road. There are alternatively quiet pools and rock-strewn rapids over the first stretch culminating in a 3 metre waterfall about 1 km downstream. The steep section below the water supply intake can be unsafe in high flows.
The Kauaeranga River is inland from Thames and has numerous put in points along the 20 km access road. The wide shingle bed can produce Grade 3 conditions with above average flows.
Don’t bypass Coromandel Peninsula, it is a wild place of rare beauty and variety.
All those Aucklanders can’t be wrong – it’s a very special holiday haven.