Coromandel Peninsula, North Island New Zealand with Ema Taylor
Our trip to Whangamatā was spontaneously decided over wine and cheese one night...
Two months later and without a second thought we were on a plane across the ditch to New Zealand. Luckily we were headed there with two of the best travel buddies you could wish for and the itinerary had already arrived in our inbox outlining a thoughtful union of passive and active day activities.
Whangamatā is a small beach town situated on the southeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand, a 2 hour drive from Auckland airport.
Our humble batch (beach house) for the week was a kiwi fruits throw away from the ocean, our backyard running into the sand dunes. Whangamatā was the perfect location for exploring the Coromandel Peninsula.
‘Morning sunrises were saluted by the boys from the ocean.’
We had planned to hike the Coromandel Pinnacles, however following heavy floods the track was closed. Wentworth falls was next on the list and it surely did not disappoint. Once an old gold mining settlement, the easy 2 hour round ‘tramping’ track leads you across the Wentworth River, through regenerating forest up until you reach the top of the waterfall where you are rewarded with a breathtaking vista of surrounding mountains.
‘Admiring the beautiful vista at the top of Wentworth falls’.
‘You can take a steep rock stair detour down into the base of the falls and if brave enough brace the icy water for a dip.’
Cathedral Cove is a must see when visiting the Coromandel’s. Access to the cove is via boat or foot. The walk takes about 1.5 hours return and I urge you to not be a rookie tourist like me and wear shoes… let’s just say my feet had seen better days following that gravel track massage.
‘Iconic archway at Cathedral cove’
Crystal blue water, white sand, grand rock archways and lush green cliff tops welcome you; Cathedral Cove is New Zealand’s tropical paradise. Pack a picnic and spend the day down there.
‘Locky and I – Cathedral Cove’
En route home from Cathedral Cove we stopped in at Purangi winery, an old rustic property with a countryside charm. The charismatic staff welcome you with a wine and liquor tasting and introduction to the local fruit – fejoita. Following this we enjoyed delicious wood fired pizzas and fejoita cider outside in the vineyard under the shelter of a kiwi tree.
‘Purangi winery – wine tasting, wood fired pizzas amidst the countryside charm’
Whenuakura also known as ‘Donut island’ is situated 1km off Whangamatā beach. This once secret island is now a popular tourist destination for kayakers and paddle boarders. A tour usually takes from 1-2 hours round trip and you can lease the boards/kayaks from the local surf shop in town.
Kayak hire is very dependable on weather conditions as with heavy off shore winds it is easy to be blown out past the island and end up out to sea. Countless tourist rescues have been made.
‘Whenuakura also known as ‘Donut island’ to the right.’
It was our last day to head over to the island and regardless of the weather risk conditions and hire closure, the ‘experienced kayakers from Australia’ somehow convinced the tour guides to let us go out. Heading out to the island was fine; I was even thinking what a natural born kayaker I was, really living up to the ‘experienced’ title.
As you enter the cave a serene energy is felt. The cliff top is engulfed by overgrown native flora and you calmly float around in the turquoise lagoon, surrounded by volcanic cliff rock, imagining what life on an island would be like.
The journey back to the beach in off shore winds really threw my ‘natural born kayaker’ confidence overboard. 2 meter high waves were crashing over us as we paddled through the treacherous waters against gail force winds (Locky seems to think I am exaggerating), however I am sure if it wasn’t for the 2 man kayak, I would probably be stranded on an island playing with Wilson right now. Never the less, Donut Island is absolutely worth bracing the high seas and sore hip flexors the next day.
Warm days were followed by cool nights and our last evening was spent on the beach front with a fire and copious cups of organic drinking chocolate ~ Ceremony Cacao.
Ceremony Cacao – Organic, super food infused drinking chocolate.
‘Hand thrown ceramic mugs from Whangamatā pottery studio.’
The Coromandel Peninsula has a unique magic about it; the rich earth, vast landscapes, rejuvenating air and seemingly untouched ‘small town’ charm left me feeling cleansed, incredibly grateful for Mother Nature’s beauty and with a thirst to explore the rest of New Zealand.
Image credit – Chloe Dunlop, Anthony MacKenzie, Locky Rabbidge.