Schedule your trip to arrive in time to hear the 6 p.m. bells chime from Tara, the mountaintop sanctuary a short hike from the Mana Retreat Centre. Walk the labyrinth, eat delicious vegetarian food, schedule a therapeutic massage, and take an outdoor bush bath to unwind. In the morning, drive 20 minutes to Coromandel Town, where you can enjoy an organic breakfast made from scratch at Chai Tea House, owned and operated by one of Mana’s founders.
Continue your journey and being at peace as you stop at Mahamudra Centre for Universal Unity. At the Buddhist meditation center, visitors can participate in a guided meditation or simply walk the gardens and take in the verdant valley views.
Once you’ve reached Colville, stop at the general store to top up your petrol and dry goods, and then head next door to the Hereford ‘n’ a Pickle Farm Shop, where you can enjoy coffee or tea, freshly baked goods and ice cream, and purchase a selection of farm-fresh meats, cheese, and vegetables from the family-run Colville Farm. If you’re looking for a little extra adventure, take a half-hour walk from the shop to the Colville Cemetery, where you can see stunning views of the local farmland and graves from the late 1800s.
Camp at the DOC Port Jackson Campground for $13NZD, where you’ll be literally steps from the beach. The campsite also has a book exchange program going and is a starting point for the Muriwai Walk (recommended for sunrise or sunset).
The Coromandel Coastal Walkway is a must-do for anyone wanting to see the very best views. There are no roads along the tip of the Coromandel, so the only way to see the coastline is to do the three-hour hike from Fletcher Bay to Stony Bay. While a shuttle can be arranged to and from Coromandel Town, if you’re feeling ambitious, try for the seven-hour round-trip tramp, with a stop at the river at Stony Bay where you can dip your feet and eat a bite of lunch. The route isn’t treacherous, though you may run into a cow or two along the trail.
After that hike, it’s time to relax in the sun. Drive across the peninsula and down the eastern side before swinging back toward Coromandel Town. Then take route 25 over and up toward New Chums Beach, just past Whangapoua. Park and walk about 30 minutes over boulders and through the woods until you come to a beach of stunning white sand, aquamarine waters, and surprisingly few people. Something about the little tramp keeps the hordes at bay, which means more room for you to stretch out and enjoy the sound of the surf.
Farther down the east coast is Kuaotunu Beach, across the road from Luke’s Kitchen. Showcasing the best wood-fired pizza in the Coromandel, Luke’s has a café open during the day and a tiki-themed bar with live music open at night. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients ensure that whatever you order will be delicious. A less populated beach a little farther up the road is Otama Beach, so head there when you’re ready for some quiet time.
While the town of Whitianga has all the amenities you’ll need, when it’s time to hit the beach, drive five minutes up the road to the residential area known as Simpson’s Beach. The white sandy beach there is surrounded by the homes of locals, meaning tourists haven’t discovered it yet.
Each beach on this list offers something special, but Hot Water Beach is a truly unique experience. Grab your friends, grab a shovel, and dig your own hot tub right in the sand! The thermal waters beneath this beach mean the water is boiling hot, so channel your inner architect when designing an aqueduct to bring in cold water for the perfect temperature.
Hot Water Beach, Waikato, New Zealand
By BrocheAroe Fabian
BrocheAroe Fabian (pronounced bruh-khuh a-roy) is an American by birth who grew up traveling the world with her Anthropologist parents. She has an MFA in Writing Literature for Children, and currently works as freelance writer and marketing consultant. She enjoys fostering cross-cultural understanding through her travels. You can connect with her online here: WildlyTraveled.com, Facebook.com/wildlytraveled, Twitter/Instagram: @wildlylived.