The southern Coromandel is bounded by the historic and scenic Karangahake Gorge and smaller, adjoining Waikino Gorge. State Highway 2 wends its way through the forest-covered, gorged terrain from small farming town Paeroa, to the gold-mining center of Waihi. While the towns are just 20 km (12.4 miles) apart, there is much to see and do along the way. Try to give yourself some time to explore the forest walks to old mining sites, batteries, and tunnels. Better still, take a bike ride on the Hauraki Rail Trail (including through the tunnels). Check out the gold-mining history in Waihi. If you're not beached-out after the Coromandel, head to beautiful Waihi Beach, 11½ km (7 miles) from Waihi.
Gold mining has helped shaped the history of this region. From the late 1800s to early 1900s, hundreds of miners toiled in both underground and open pit mines. You can reflect on their efforts at heritage sites and in museums, and even visit a working mine, as mining still continues in Waihi.
Today a new rush of people come here to explore the walking trails and heritage mining sites and tunnels, to cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail and the Goldfields Heritage Railway, and to visit the cafés and wineries.