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.
Coromandel Forest Park—Kauaeranga Valley. This area of the forest park has more than 20 walking trails that offer everything from a 15-minute stroll to an overnight trek. The hike to the interesting Pinnacles formations is the most popular walk in the entire park; the trek from the trailhead to the Pinnacles hut takes three hours one-way. From the hut you can continue (about one hour, one-way) to the the Pinnacles and a viewpoint that spans both coasts, the Firth of Thames and Pacific Ocean. An overnight in Pinnacles hut costs NZ$15; you need to reserve it either through a DOC visitor center or online (booking.doc.govt.nz). 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. Summer holiday season is busy, so book well ahead. Generally, midweek is less crowded than weekends throughout summer. There are also delightful camping areas along the valley floor (NZ$10). To reach 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 visitor center in Kauaeranga Valley (open variable seasonal hours, check with the Thames i-SITE Visitor Centre first) also provides information on many other Coromandel walks or hikes, to places such as Fantail Bay, Cathedral Cove, or Opera Point. www.doc.govt.nz.
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. Hours vary throughout the year, the center is open daily for extended hours in peak summer holidays but changes at various times - contact the Thames i-SITE Visitor Centre for the current times when you wish to visit. 07/867–9080. www.doc.govt.nz.
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