Coromandel – ideas for free time

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The coastline on the eastern side of Coromandel is simply beautiful, with a number of golden beaches interspersed with rocky outcrops all the way from Whangapoua to Waihi. Whilst in the area the 40-minute walk to Cathedral Cove from Hahei is a must-do. The path meanders through native bush and past several viewpoints to arrive at the now famous sandstone arch which frames the turquoise waters. There are also a couple of good snorkelling spots along the way, albeit off a stony beach, but take beach shoes and your snorkel and you won’t be disappointed. If you walk the other way along the wide beach at HaHei you reach Te Pare Reserve where you can just about see the remains of two historic Pa site (Maori hill fort). From here there are breath-taking views along the coast and out across the ocean. Not far away, Hot Water Beach attracts crowds frantically digging a personal spa pool in the sand. If you would like to join them, check when low tide is and rent a spade locally.

Inland, the Coromandel Forest Park is home to a number of forest trails and the birdlife here is fantastic; it’s an ideal spot for anyone looking to spot a few unique New Zealand species. And for garden lovers Rapaura Water Gardens – on the western side of the peninsula – is a magically tranquil 64-acre private estate with lily ponds, tumbling waterfalls and interesting sculptures by award-winning artists. For something a little quirky visit Driving Creek Railway, where you can take a narrow-gauge train up to the ‘Eyeful Tower’ for splendid views, or visit the Waterworks, where you will find an array of creative and quirky water-powered inventions, all made from recycled materials and some of which are sure to put a smile on your face!

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