Coromandel Town, New Zealand, named after HMS Coromandel which arrived at the harbour back in 1820, has much to offer the visitor. Once a major port servicing the needs of the gold mining and kauri industries on the Coromandel Peninsula, it now makes its money from mussel farming and tourism. Spring’s the perfect time for a visit before the summer crowds descend. Here are things to do in Coromandel Town during spring.
Things to do in Coromandel Town in Spring
On the hunt for gold
Gold was discovered at nearby Driving Creek back in 1852 and the town’s mining heritage is evident to this day. Time your visit for a weekend afternoon to visit the quaint Coromandel School of Mines and Historical Museum, where you can learn a little about early gold mining and the local history of the area. If you want to try your hand at panning for gold, head for the Coromandel Stamper battery. There, you’ll find New Zealand’s largest working water wheel, over a century old, and have a tour of the plant from a knowledgeable geologist. It’s closed on Fridays, but call ahead and you can visit in the off season by appointment.
A ride on a narrow gauge railway
Get a more detailed look at the stunning scenery in the area at Driving Creek Railway and Potteries as you ride New Zealand’s only narrow gauge railway. The train will haul you up to the summit station known as “The Eye-full Tower” where, at 165 metres above sea level, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views over the Hauraki Gulf. Trains run all year and reach the top by way of two spirals, three tunnels and several viaducts, delighting railway enthusiasts as well as nature and art lovers – the man behind it all is a talented potter.
Take to the water
On a sunny day, you’ll find it hard to resist getting out on the water. Make the most of the fact that this is an important centre for mussel growing and take a trip out on a mussel barge. You can try your hand at fishing using the rods and bait supplied, or simply take in the scenery as you cruise leisurely around Coromandel Harbour. Back on land, Mussel Kitchen, a few kilometres south of town specialises in cooking these delicious molluscs in a myriad of ways to tempt all palates. Alternatively, visit Coromandel Smoking Co and try their yummy smoked mussels.
Where to round off the evening
Back in Coromandel Town, head for the Star and Garter pub. This 1873 building was once a general store for the gold miners that lived and worked in the area and then a drapery. Since 2003, it’s been a popular hostelry with an interior fashioned from the area’s abundant kauri wood. If there’s a chill in the air once the sun’s gone down, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a roaring log fire. Pull up a chair and make a toast to this pretty part of North Island.
Another great way to explore other things to do in Coromandel town and nearby areas, is to go on a guided tour.