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Whangamata is a gold-rush town of 3,880 people on the southeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, and is known as one of New Zealand’s best surf spots. The town and its 4km of white sand beach are overrun by surfers during the summer holidays (Dec–Jan), but is quiet otherwise throughout the year.

Whangamata borders the Coromandel Forest Park and Tairua Forest and there are bush walks, mountain biking trails and old gold mining sites to visit. There are some islands easily accessible from Whangamata as well. Hauturu (or Clark) Island can be waded out to during low tide, or reached by kayak. And about 1km away is Whenuakura, or Donut Island, so called because of a large collapsed blow hole that has formed a beach inside the island.

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