Short walks and longer day and overnight forest walks are a big attraction, especially in Kauaeranga Valley. Camping is also popular in the valley or on coastal camping grounds. On the water, try fishing around the mussel and scallop farms, or birdwatching.
Kauaeranga Valley Forest Park. The park has 22 walking trails that offer anything from a 15-minute stroll to an overnight trek.
The hike to the Pinnacles is the most popular walk in Kauaeranga Forest Park and probably on the peninsula; the trek from the trailhead to the Pinnacles hut takes three hours one-way. From the hut you can continue to the peak (another hour one-way) for a view that spans both coasts. An overnight in the Pinnacles hut costs $15.30; you need to reserve it through the DOC center. You can hike back via the three-hour-long Webb Creek trail or come down the longer (four-hour) alternative route, the Billy Goat track.
Always read the signs at the start of the track to check their state. If you're traveling in the busy season, plan to visit midweek. To reach the Kauaeranga Valley, head south from Thames and on the outskirts of the town turn left on Banks Street, then right on Parawai Road, which becomes Kauaeranga Valley Road.
The DOC center provides information on many other walks or tramps to places such as Fantail Bay, Cathedral Cove, or Opera Point. There are numerous places to swim and the beaches are quite safe as you head out along the Coromandel Peninsula. There are not many changing rooms but it's acceptable to change car side with a towel.
Department of Conservation Visitors Center. The most accessible starting point is the delightful Kauaeranga Valley Road, where the Department of Conservation Visitors Center provides maps and information. 07/867–9080. www.doc.govt.nz.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe