Eating your way around The Coromandel
The Coromandel is fast becoming a food-lovers paradise. For the hunter-gatherer who has a fondness for foraging the freshest new food products, quirky cafes, and hip home breweries, The Coromandel is abuzz with industry, innovation and creativity in the food production and hospitality industries. What better time than winter to gather fellow food lovers and sample the harvest with a winter weekend food trail across The Coromandel
Before arriving in Paeroa you might like to pay a visit to The Public Office in Ngatea, who offer creative seasonal dishes. Paeroa, the home of the giant L&P bottle is also home to several cutting edge cafes that straddle whole and raw food trends and old fashioned home-baked decadence. Courtyard Cafe & Delicatessen offer an abundant selection of mouth watering cakes and counter food, and an inspired brunch menu with something suitable for all dietary requirements. Their selection of organic and boutique food products, coffee and kitchen accessories allows for some pleasing shopping whilst you wait for your food. The Refinery in Paeroa oozes atmosphere, with its vast space and retro styling. The Refinery is a cafe and live venue unique to the area, hosting indie musicians from around New Zealand and serving healthy, hearty and modern food.
Falls Retreat in Karangahake Gorge is a must-stop on your Coromandel Food Trail. Nestled midway through the Gorge, adjacent to the stunning Owharoa Falls, is the epicentre of paddock-to-plate ethos. Falls Retreat offers accommodation, a restaurant and a garden on-site, and the people behind the place are passionate about sharing their knowledge. They even offer a personalised “paddock to plate” experience with the opportunity to gather and taste ingredients and learn how to use a variety of fresh seasonal produce harvested from their gardens. Spend the night at their charming Rose Cottage, Waterfall or Log Cabin and savour the experience.
Waihi and Whangamatā are foodie favourites, for their eco-eateries and contemporary cafes. In Waihi, Ti-Tree Cafe does the best breakfasts in town and Sustainable Pantry offers an extensive variety of bulk whole foods and supplies, and also serves up delicious snacks, salads and coffee. Sixfortysix in Whangamatā is a centre-stage coffee shop and cafe opening on to the main street and serving way better cakes and coffee than you could ever get at home.
Stop in at Colenso Cafe to maintain your winter wellness. Their citrus orchard provides delicious mandarins which are used to great effect in the cafe. Homemade soup and an ever-changing specials menu complement Colenso’s classic counter food favourites such as smoked fish pie and spinach and feta tart.
Hot Water Brewing Co is an offbeat brewery and restaurant just off the State Highway in Whenuakite. They serve up satisfying pub-style plates and an extensive selection of home-brewed beers on tap. For vino, views and very authentic Italian pizza, Mercury Bay Estate is a glorious, unmissable spot, perched high on a hill overlooking Cooks Beach.
A stay at The Church in Hahei will provide the perfect place to explore all the culinary delights Mercury Bay has to offer. With an on-site restaurant as well, the Church Bistro is housed in the original church building from the early 1900s, complete with kauri beams, classical joinery and a sumptuous seasonal menu.
The Pour House in Hahei is the home of Coromandel Brewing, with their on-site brewed beers and delicious Apple Crumble Cider on tap and a thoroughly hearty and satisfying bistro menu available for lunch and dinner during winter weekends. Little Blue Kitchen is also a favourite with the locals, serving up fresh coffee, bagels and burritos. Go Vino is a Cooks Beach long time local favourite restaurant, serving up shared platters for a uniquely social experience.
Whilst venturing around Mercury Bay, be sure to pick up some nuts at Cathedral Cove Macadamias and relishes and dressings from Castle Rock Café.
Our largest town, Whitianga, is a good place to overnight and the town centre restaurants offer a good range of dining styles. Tucked down a side street heading to the marina, Blue Ginger is the epitome of Asian-fusion cuisine with a special joyful vibe that adds extra flavour (if that's possible). Otherwise, you may like to treat yourself to the tastes of Mexico at Cooked, which started out over the water in Ferry Landing and more recently moved to Whitianga.
North of Whitianga, head to Luke’s Kitchen in Kūaotunu for wood-fired pizzas and stunning sea views from the warm shelter of this iconic outdoor restaurant. In Coromandel Town, Umu has the best Haloumi sandwich you will ever eat, while Wharf Road’s cake selection is bountiful. On the south side of the township, Coromandel Oyster Company serve freshly harvested oysters, cooked fish and chips and flounder.
As you make your way south, stop at the cheerful Waiomu Beach Cafe for a takeaway coffee and a leisurely wander along the stunning Thames Coast. A short drive to Thames will offer your last chance to forage for foodie souvenirs; try Re-Store, The Green Grocer and Savour and Spice for unique, boutique and fresh food you won’t likely find at home. For a final taste of The Coromandel, pick up the organic cumin seed gouda at The Cheese Barn at Matatoki. As a BioGro-certified maker of organic cheeses, yoghurts and other natural delights, it presents the perfect final feast for your Coromandel food tour.
The Coromandel | www.thecoromandel.com