Reservation Phone
07 866 8221

Book your stay

History of the Coromandel

The first European contact with the area, originally named Waiou by local Maori, was in 1795 when the ship Fancy arrived to cut kauri spars for the Navy. It was not, however, until 1820, with the arrival of HMSS Coromandel, also to collect spars, when the name Coromandel was given to the town and the peninsula.

Timber was the first extractive industry to dominate the economy and it was not until gold was discovered by Charles Ring in 1852 that Coromandel's character began to change. By 1861, after negotiations with Maori landowners, an agreement was reached allowing all Maori land in the area to be open to prospecting. The present township was first established on Kapanga Flats in 1861-62 and was officially declared a gold field on 27 June 1862.

During the 1870s as the town 'boomed', the courthouse, school, National Bank, Presbyterian Church and many residences were built, and more than 20 of these buildings still survive. The large increase in population in the 1880s-90s also saw the opening of the hospital in 1898. By this time the town boasted hotels, drapers, blacksmiths, storekeepers, stationers, booksellers, restaurants and a branch of the Bank of New Zealand, Post Office, and a local newspaper The Coromandel Mail.

On Christmas Eve 1895, a fire that started in the Star and Garter Hotel destroyed much of the business district. A year later the Coromandel Volunteer Fire Brigade was established. World War I saw the end of the mining 'boom' and the area developed a strong agricultural industry.

Coromandel has a rich stock of surviving buildings of heritage significance and although 'boom and bust' in nature, gold mining was the dominant industry for 34 years from 1868, and this is reflected in the Register of Historic Places. Coromandel Town is now rapidly growing as a popular tourist destination and is now internationally known for the production of marine-farmed green lipped mussels for the export market. It is well known nationally by Kiwis as one of the best places to visit and stay.

Coromandel Activities & Attractions

Driving Creek Railway

New Zealand's only narrow-gauge mountain railway along with a working pottery and wildlife sanctuary. The 1 hour return trip on our innovative designed trains takes you through replanted native kauri forest and includes 2 spirals, 3 short tunnels, 5 reversing points and several large viaducts as it climbs up to the mountain-top terminus.

Visit website
Driving Creek RailwayDriving Creek Railway

The Waterworks

Check out New Zealand's quirkiest theme park: located in Coromandel Town, The Waterworks is the ultimate Kiwi experience for people of all ages.

Visit website
The WaterworksCoromandel Town's theme parka famous Coromandel attraction for kids and families

The 309 Road

New Zealand's famous 309 Road is a scenic 22km journey which crosses the backbone of the Coromandel Peninsula from east to west. Mostly unsealed, it showcases spectacular scenery as it winds through lush farmland, pine forests and extensive areas of beautiful native bush.

Visit website
The 309 Road

Coromandel Forest Park

Base yourself at one of the campsites in the area and explore the numerous tracks with relics from kauri logging and gold mining eras.

Visit website
Coromandel Forest Park

AA 101

Coromandel Town is one of the 101 Must-Do's for Kiwis. 101 Must–Do's for Kiwis is a celebration of the best that New Zealand has to offer. Whether you're into adrenalin–filled adventures, family outings or quiet sightseeing, there's something on the list for you.

Visit website
AA 101 Must-Do's for Kiwis

Other Activities

In the Coromandel you will find:

  • Spectacular scenery – come and try our scenic boat cruises
  • Safe beaches
  • Surf beach only half an hour away
  • New Chums Beach voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world
  • Port Jackson, the top of the peninsula, just over an hour away by road
  • Coromandel beaches
  • Road trips
  • Coromandel walking/hiking trips
  • Family activities
  • Art/craft tours
  • Coromandel town events
  • Festivals
  • Dining out
  • Outdoor adventure sporting events
  • Fishing competitions
  • Coromandel shopping

A visit to New Zealand showcases many different aspects from rugged mountain ranges, beautiful beaches to adventure holidays and aquatic activities.

Kiwis love the water and are keen to take to the sea in small boats for long weekends away in secluded spots.

One place you can see this is on the Coromandel Peninsula, which is on the east coast of the North Island about halfway between Auckland and Tauranga.

There are two main parts to the Coromandel Peninsula – the western side that sits on the Firth of Thames and the eastern side that boasts an ocean perfect for yachting and diving.

In Thames you can check out the Gold Mine Experience – a walk through an old mine and panning for gold – a School of Mines and Mineralogical Museum, or the Butterfly and Orchid Garden where you can stop indoors for an up-close encounter with hundreds of the colourful critters.

To get to the eastern side you can either follow the main road across the peninsula and then down the eastern coast to the lovely seaside town of Whitianga or try your luck on the 309 Road. This is a mountain route and a 4WD vehicle is advisable. It's a short distance, but takes a long time. Along it however there are some pretty amazing sights.

There are lots of places to get some good photos down the coast road to Whitianga and the best bet is to just take your time.

Coromandel is an excellent base for exploring the peninsula and several must-see spots are within an easy drive.

The first has to be Cathedral Cove, which can be compared with Port Campbell's Arch along Victoria's Great Ocean Road in Australia. It is a half-hour hike to a sandy cove where you can swim to a pancake-like rock shelf about 100 metres offshore or walk through an arched cave through to a second beach that has its own tall sandstone island.

The walk down to Cathedral Cove is not easy for the unfit – there are steep parts – but pack a picnic and sit back and relax once you get there as it is glorious.

Not far away from Hahei is Hot Water Beach where, for two hours either side of low tide, you can dig yourself a hole and plonk in for a good soak in hot water.

Be warned the place can get overrun by masses of tourists wanting in on the action but it is all very friendly and if you have sense you'll dig a hole near one of the hotter pools and then dig a channel to borrow some of their water, which can get hot enough to cook food in!