COROMANDEL PENINSULA 3 days/2 nights
A relaxed journey of discovery of the Coromandel Peninsula
Auckland, Seabird Coast, Miranda Shorebird centre, Thames, Pohutukawa Coast, Coromandel, “Driving Creek Railway", Whitianga, Cooks Cove, Cathedral Cove, Pauanui, Waihi, Karangahake Gorge, Paeroa, Auckland.
Tours depart Auckland: 11 February, 11 March.
Day 1. Monday. AUCKLAND – THAMES – COROMANDEL – MERCURY BAY
8am. Depart Auckland. Pickup from any inner city accommodation prior to 8am.
Drive via Clevedon, Kawakawa Bay and the Seabird Coast to visit the Miranda Shorebird centre then on to the historic gold mining centre of Thames. Visit the historic museum and drive along the Pohutukawa Coast to Coromandel town. Enjoy a ride on the “Driving Creek Railway”, among the regenerating native forest to the “Eyeful Tower”. "Driving Creek Railway" is the fulfillment of the dream and passion of Barry Brickell, environmentalist, rail enthusiast, and potter. Cross the Peninsula to the charming town of Whitianga. Two nights accommodation and breakfast at Whitianga, Tairua, or Pauanui.
Day 2. Tuesday. MERCURY BAY AREA. (B)
Enjoy a leisurely day exploring the Mercury Bay area. Famous visitors include the great explorer Kupe around 950AD, and Captain Cook observed the transit of Mercury on November 09, 1769 at Cooks Beach which we visit. Enjoy a ninety minute round trip walk to Cathedral Cove (free!) and we recommend an optional cruise along the beautiful coast with views of Cathedral Cove and spectacular cliffs (extra expense). Visit Hotwater beach at low tide to 'dig your own' hot pool to soak in the thermal water, and swim in the sea in summer. Also visit a boutique winery, herb garden, and craft centre.
Day 2. Wednesday. MERCURY BAY - WAIHI - PAEROA - AUCKLAND (B)
Visit the beautiful seaside town of Whangamata on the way to the Gold Discovery centre at Waihi for a guided tour of the modern working Gold Mine. Continue through the Karangahake Gorge with time for a short walk on the rail trail. Continue through Paeroa and see the massive Lemon and Paeroa monument. Also visit the site on the Waihou River which marks the further most inland point that Captain Cook came and return to Auckland late afternoon. Drop off at the airport by 6pm, or inner city.
Tour cost per person:
2 per room $990
3 per room $950
Single room $1,090
Tour cost includes: All travel from Auckland back to Auckland. Two nights accommodation and breakfast, Admissions to: Miranda Shorebird centre, Thames museum. Driving Creek Railway, Waihi Gold Centre.
COROMANDEL ONE DAY TOUR - just $380 per person Departs Auckland daily for minimum of 2.
Pick up and drop off from any inner city accommodation.
Depart Auckland 7.00am (pickups prior) and travel south down the motorway and across the Hauraki Plains to the historic Gold Mining Centre of Thames. En route we cross the Waihou River up which Captain Cook paddled in 1769. Gold was discovered in Thames in 1852 but owing to the Waikato land wars it was 1867 before a fabulous find of gold sparked a massive gold rush. Within a year a town of 18,000 had sprung up (at a time when Auckland had a population of around 12,000!). The Golden Crown, Manukau, and Caledonian mines became some of the richest - the latter producing over 361,000 ounces of gold in one year. The rush peaked in 1871 with more than 70 mines operating day and night (sundays excepted) with 693 massive stamps in 40 batteries crushing the ore. By 1924 the crushing had all but ceased.
** POHUTUKAWA COAST DRIVE
The 40 minute Pohutukawa fringed coastal drive from Thames to Coromandel gives fabulous views across the Firth of Thames towards Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf Islands. Late November to mid-late December the Pohutukawa trees are a blaze of red earning their name as our Christmas Tree. Close to Coromandel we will see some of the Mussel and Oyster farms for which the area is famous
** COROMANDEL TOWN
It was kauri trees that attracted commercial interests to Coromandel first and the first load of Kauri timber was shipped out in 1850. A gold rush started in 1862 but never achieved the value of Thames.
** CAFE LUNCH
** DRIVING CREEK RAILWAY AND POTTERY
Driving Creek Railway is the fulfillment of the dream and drive of Barry Brickell, a renowned potter, artist, engineer, environmentalist, and rail enthusiast. Barry started with a pottery and small rail link to bring the clay to his kiln. Over the past 27 years he has built 3km of narrow gauge rail track up the mountains behind the pottery to the "Eyefull Tower" with panoramic views over the Coromandel harbour. Tens of thousands of native trees have been planted to restore the environment to its natural state. Often in summer glass blowers are at work in the pottery. You will have the opportunity to purchase pottery, art, and glass works. Our train ride takes about an hour - cost included.
** WHITIANGA- We drive across the Coromandel Peninsula to the beautiful resort of Whitianga on Mercury Bay looking out to the Pacific Ocean. The famous Maori explorer Kupe is reputed to have visited here and there has been a Maori presence since the earliest days of New Zealand habitation. Mercury Bay was named by Captain Cook after he observed the transit of the planet Mercury here in 1769. We take a brief stop at the beautiful 4km long Buffalo Beach where the British warship HMS Buffalo was wrecked in 1840 and take a coffee break - own expense.
Please note: when travel is with our partner operator Whitianga may not be visited but you will have time for both Hotwater Beach and Cathedral Cove walk
** HOTWATER BEACH - CATHEDRAL COVE
You now have a choice of 3 activities and time for only one!
(1) CATHEDRAL COVE CRUISE - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
To really enjoy the area and make an exciting addition to your Great Day Out we recommend an exciting fast boat cruise from Hahei. Cruise along the beautiful coastline, enter and explore sea caves, see the offshore islands and cruise Cathedral Cove for your photo opportunity. Also see some of the stunning movie locations from the Narnia Movie Prince Caspian. The cruise is weather dependent. We recommend reserving in advance but payment is made on the day when we are sure it will operate. Extra cost $95 per adult, $60 per child
(2) HOTWATER BEACH - an amazing place where natural hot springs bubble up under the sand. The area is totally covered by seawater at high tide however 2 hours either side of low tide it is possible to dig your own hot thermal bath in the sand. The water in most places comes up through the sand too hot to sit in and needs to be mixed with cool seawater to be bearable. If you really want to experience it and the tides are suitable bring your swim suit and a towel and we will supply a spade for YOU to dig your own bath BUT please note the area is very crowded in summer. If you choose this option you will have around 1 hour at Hotwater beach to swim, relax, and enjoy the beautiful beach - quite apart from the hot springs. There is no charge to visit the beach. A cafe is at Hotwater beach
One of the most beautiful of all the beautiful coastal areas in New Zealand. We can drop you off at the top of a brisk 90 minute round trip walk down to Cathedral Cove and back. This walk is partly open farmland and partly forest. A water bottle and sunhat are essential in hot weather. A good level of fitness is required to enjoy it as we do not have the time to make it a leisurely stroll. You will have 15-20 minutes only to enjoy Cathedral Cove and take your photographs before returning to the car park for pick up.
** THE JOURNEY HOME
Sit back and relax as we all get together and share experiences while we drive through Tairua and recross the Coromandel Peninsula to Thames and return home. Arrival back is between 7pm and 8pm.
Your tour cost includes all travel by people mover, mini or midi bus, with your friendly driver/guide, lunch and Driving Creek rail ride