Two sister towns on the Coromandel Peninsula’s blessed east coast, share a protected harbour and a luxury lifestyle that befits two of our most favoured holiday resorts.

Tairua and Pauanui’s neighbourliness extends to sharing a five minute regular passenger ferry service across the narrow harbour entrance. However, the direct contact ends there as Tairua lies on a busy highway and Pauanui is reached by a 25km circuitous road, which tends to make it a rather exclusive family holiday enclave that offers little of interest for passing travellers.

Pauanui comes close to real-estate agent’s nirvana, with its canal-side homes and a manicured suburban sprawl that envelops the entire sandy peninsula. Its protective inner harbour provides a safe area for aquatic fun and games and its superb ocean beach is ideal for surfing and windsurfing.

Tairua’s main physical feature is the imposing monolithic Paku Hill. A 15 minute moderate climb from the road end, affords visitors a panoramic view from atop an ancient volcano and Maori pa site. Literally at your feet, is a breathtaking view of the complete Pauanui sandspit and its principal tree-lined avenue with miniature houses either side.

Tairua is a small but rather intensively developed beachside town 42km south of Whitianga. The town’s attractive combination of surfing beach and sheltered harbour makes it exceedingly popular in summer. A major drawcard is the opportunity for explorative historic walks in the Coromandel Forest Park. After conquering the summit of Paku you may wish to sample some true New Zealand wilderness in the Broken Hills area. This primeval swathe of regenerating native bush is reached via a side road 17km south of Tairua. A number of tracks lead to relics of the frenetic and fevered gold mining and kauri logging days, such as Gem of the Boom Creek Walk, which visits the site of a ghost town jail, and the Golden Hills Mine Track, which disappears into a tunnel and visits an abandoned stamper battery. The streams in this locality regularly give up a rich store of semi-precious gemstones and crystallised quartz, which make great keepsakes.

Tairua offers a choice of five motor camps, a backpacker’s lodge, hotels, motels and the upmarket resort, Puka Park Lodge. The Hunting Room at the lodge provides gourmet dining with seafood a specialty and there are ample good quality eateries in the town’s main street as well.