An hour north of Thames on State Highway 25, little Coromandel Town has a laid-back atmosphere and a good deal of charm and local flavour. It was a major centre during the height of the gold rush, but those days are long gone. Today, Coromandel Town has a notably artsy character, some good cafés, excellent local fish and shellfish and the dramatic coastal scenery of the northern peninsula.
There isn’t a great deal to do in Coromandel Town. The most popular activity is probably the Driving Creek Railway, a narrow-gauge railway that passes through a wildlife sanctuary and pottery complex; and the Coromandel Gold Stamper Battery, an authentic old machine that miners used to crush rocks into sand. It’s powered by New Zealand’s largest working water wheel.
Shuttle buses from Coromandel Town can bring you farther north to the rugged, beautiful Coromandel Coastal Walkway, which links Fletcher Bay to Stony Bay. It’s a 3-4 hour walk over remote farmland, coastline and bush, and it takes in views of the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island and the Pacific Ocean.