Mention the Coromandel Peninsula and most people think of Coromandel’s stunning east coast beaches; Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, Hahei and Whangamata. But at the northern end of the peninsula lies a spectacular smorgasbord of largely unpopulated, unspoiled beaches with pristine white sand so fine it squeaks between your toes. Welcome beach bums to beach heaven starting with the gateway to this north facing coastal playground; Matarangi.
Imagine 4.5 kilometres of sandy white beach, crystal blue sea, gentle surf lapping on the shore and all day sun. Now keep that picture in your head because that’s Matarangi!
Matarangi beach is super safe for kids, making it one of the most popular family destinations on the peninsula. This also means it is the most developed of the northern facing beaches, yet Matarangi is a place very much in touch with the simple things in life. This is a community where life is centred around the general store, where families come year after year to relax and unwind from the stresses of city life.
There’s just enough of those city lifestyle pleasures; an international 18 hole golf course, a licensed restaurant and bar and Piper’s Cafe for those who can’t do without their daily caffeine fix, but not so much that people forget why they came here; to fish, swim, dive, go boating, walk in the many natural reserves or just lie on the beach.
For those who want to experience the holy grail of truly untouched beaches, then you must visit New Chums beach. New Chums is rated among the top beaches in the world by Observer and National Geographic, yet is virtually unknown by most New Zealanders. Forget about driving to this beach because the only way you’ll get here is by foot.
From Matarangi, head north to the far end of Whangapoua Beach, wade across the shallow lagoon then walk 30 minute walk, around coastline, over rocks and past a magnificent grove of Nikau Palms. Then take a huge breath as you prepare to be stunned by this magnificent unspoiled beach paradise lined with overgrown pohutukawa trees; no people, no houses, nothing but sandy white beach and the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Head back to Matarangi and wind your way along Bluff Road, taking some time to stop at Rings Beach, a small settlement of about 20 houses with a fresh water lagoon that’s ideal for kids. Then continue on past the many rocky outcrops (ideal for surf casting) until you reach Kuaotunu. This is quintessential New Zealand; a picturesque country village and sandy white beach, surrounded by native bush and rugged farmland. Kuaotunu Beach is not only a safe swimming beach but is also famous for its surf break off the Blackjack Reef. At Kuaotunu, you’ll enjoy idyllic days sailing, boating snorkelling and water skiing and swimming with dolphins who are regular visitors to the bay.
Blackjack Road is a gravel road that winds its way to two beaches that many feel are the real jewels in a royal treasure trove of beautiful beaches; Otama and Opito Bay. This is where you come to simply enjoy what’s here; the beauty, the privacy and seclusion. This feeling of seclusion is further enhanced at Otama by the broad strip of farmland and bush reserve that goes the length of the beach so there’s no housing near or visible from the beach. Being north facing, it gets all day sun; brilliant sunrises and sunsets and with no city lights and light pollution, the night sky is simply dazzling.
Opito Bay is a sweeping, horseshoe shaped beach, framed by farmland and bush and a necklace of outlying islands. While Otama is known for its surf, Opito Bay is a safe swimming beach and known for its friendly, laid back, family feel and vibe. With no shops or restaurants and very few houses, this is as close as you’ll get to an untouched world that you can reach by car or boat. For a holiday of peace and relaxation, look no further than Opito Bay.