Coromandel, New Zealand

The Coromandel Peninsula is on the North Island in the Waikato region, 85 kilometres north from the western edge of the Bay of Plenty.

The Coromandel’s economy has in the past been driven by kauri logging and gold. The hilly area, largely covered in temperate rainforest, is now a massive draw for visitors from all over the world due to its exquisite natural features.

The area used to be volcanic zone, and its geothermal activity is behind one of its most unique attractions, the Hot Water Beach in Whitianga. For about two hours before and after low tide beach-goers can dig their own spas in the sand with a spade and let geothermally-heated water come through. The beach also has superb fishing, diving and surfing.

Also in Whitianga, the Cathedral Cove is a must-see, named for its distinctive, naturally shaped archway. It can be accessed from Hahei Beach via a one-hour walking track. The waters have excellent sights for snorkellers, with sponge gardens, delicate corals, crayfish and marblefish to be seen. The town also holds the Whitianga Scallop Festival in September each year.

Between the Coromandel and Kaimai Ranges the picturesque Karangahoke Gorge awaits at the south end on the peninsula. The region’s gold mining heritage can be seen in relics in Karangahoke, such as a stamping battery at the lower part of the gorge, and it is said to be one of the best spots in Coromandel for hiking.

The Coromandel even has its own legendary Yeti-like monster, the Hairy Moehau, in the Moehau Ranges.

There is a good deal of climatic variation throughout the region. The average high and low temperatures in Whitianga are 23 and 16 degrees Celsius in January, and 14 and 8 for July.

The nearest major airport is at Auckland. Flights are available from Air New Zealand (from many locations, including from Wellington, Christchurch and Rotorua) and Jetstar (from Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin).