For a fresh look at the place where Kiwis love to holiday, head into the green hills and valleys with a sense of discovery . The Coromandel is home to a large number of walks and hikes, thanks in many ways to the fortunes to be made in the hills and valleys of the dramatic volcanic landscapes. Unthinkable in the modern era, the activities of the pioneering treasure-hunters made trails and tracks through the dense native bush to some spectacular sights and intriguing remnants of their hard graft.
One of the most scenic and beautiful places in The Coromandel, the dramatic beauty of the gorge conceals traces of the past, of massive engineering feats and backbreaking effort blasting through mountains, following a rich lode of gold.
From the main carpark on SH2 two swing bridges take you to the stairs up through the relics into the tunnel. The “windows” look out over the deep ravine below before you emerge to complete the loop back down and around the cliff-face on the other side of the river.
Go for: a sense of adventure and a taste of life as it was
Take: a torch
This one is for the whole family, being flat and wide, following the old railway line along the bank of the Ohinemuri River. Except where it crosses two bridges and drills 1.1 kilometres through a massive hill on the bend on the river. The Hauraki Rail Trail shares part of the walkway, but there are some lights in the tunnel. You can go all the way to Waikino, about 4 hours return from the main carpark, or catch the Goldfields Train from Waihi and start from the other end. The Victoria Battery is a destination in its own right, you can see it from the trail with the old tanks looking a bit like Roman ruins.
Go for: river pathways, ruins, historic train ride
Take: bikes and a torch
You will feel successful when you reach the top and take in the views, but it’s a pretty interesting climb. From the Main street, also the start of the Taumatawahine Walk, your route will take you through regenerating native bush (things grow fast here), to the top of the ridge. Some surprisingly neat brick arches decorate several old mine entrances along the track, all horizontal so no pits, but you have to look to find them, it’s so green up here.
This track will connect to you to a much longer adventure, linking up halfway along the Kaipawa Trig track coming over from Whangapoua Lookout (maybe on your mountainbike) or north to the Kennedy Bay Road.
Go for: magic views over Coromandel harbour
Take: your dog. And a photo.
Leaving the green paddocks of Hikuai behind, the road soon turns to gravel and dives into the forest. Watch out for cars on the side of the road, as locals’ stop by to cool off in deep green waterholes in the Tairua River. The road end brings you to a grassy riverside DOC campsite, dotted with tents over the holidays. The track follows the river and loops up the hill to the damp cool air in the Collins Drive tunnel, home to giant weta and other interesting (and harmless) cave-dwellers.
If it’s too hot for hills, the flat Gem of the Boom walk on the other side of the river has surprises of other sorts, and traces of the people who lived up here, back in the day.
Go for: a slightly spooky (but safe) tunnel, wildlife and an old jail
Take: your togs, a picnic and a torch
Cookson Kauri Walk
One of the many walks in this true “Adventure Valley”, brimming with history and spectacular landscapes. There are 730 steps to get to the actual kauri but it’s worth it. And if you turn back at the steps, it’s still a cool walk along the stream, leaving from the Wainora campsite, not far from the road end.
Go for: a magnificent kauri towering above the forest
Take: a drink for the top of the stairs, and your dog on a lead.
Not far off the road along from the Visitor Centre, a lush and green trail takes you to Hoffman’s pool, a top cooling-off spot in summer. Information panels along this easy walk describe the valley’s native trees and shrubs and old stamper batteries (which were used to crush the ore to extract the gold) remind you of the settlers who lived here.
Go for: accessible natural forest
Take: togs for a swim in Hoffman’s Pool.
This is the Great Walk that gets most of the attention if you are up for a full day hike to the very summit. The characteristic rocky peaks are visible from around the region and ascending them is one of the must dos in The Coromandel. Following the stones steps cut for the pack horses up Webb Creek, you then cross a more open ridge to the DOC Pinnacles hut before the final ascent up stairs and ladders. It's a magic place to witness the sun rise over the Pacific with the twin peaks of Mt Paku on the east coast. Sun set is spectacular. Over Hauraki. Stay overnight in the hut for these experiences (you do need to book a bed), and enjoy a more leisurely two-day adventure by returning on the Billy Goat Track to make a loop.
Go for: sense of achievement, magic views to the east coast
Take: hiking boots and clothing, provisioned day pack