School holidays have snuck up on us again, yet I can’t help but think how recent our amazing trip to the Coromandel last holidays seems!
In case you’re looking for something wonderful to do with your family over the coming two weeks, may I suggest a spontaneous trip to this region rich in activity, natural beauty and exciting outdoor pursuits for both young and old.
We were lucky enough to visit and experience some fantastic activities and eateries during our Coromandel getaway and I’m going to round up our favourites for you here.
So good was our meal the first night at The Pour House in Hahei that we returned for a second night to dine. The first evening we sat outside in their wonderfully positioned deck with open fire. Fairy lights adorned the entire space and the kids had a blast just running around while we waited for our meals. Thankfully there weren’t any other patrons outside so we had free rein of the outdoor area. The meal sizes were extremely generous and everything we tried – Fish n’ Chips, Pizza and the Soup of the Day was delicious. I enjoyed a long glass of their house Cider and it went down a treat.
The second meal we ate indoors and since the restaurant was as busy as it was the first night, we were unable to be seated in the main dining area. But that suited us just fine because we scored our very own table in the Cellar Room – where the beer is actually brewed! I had the most delicious glass of Mulled Wine and we dined on pizzas and fries. The pizza flavours on offer were gourmet enough for the adults and basic enough for the kids so everyone’s bellies were well satisfied. The service was warm and very friendly, it felt more like you were popping into your mates place for a meal – The Pour House boasted a cruisey, relaxed atmosphere where nothing was too big a deal.
From Hahei we took the 309 road which was a beautifully scenic journey reminding me of my childhood home area at the top of the South Island. Winding gravel roads and lush bush surrounding the narrow roads, this drive was effortless and gave us spectacular views. Over the hill and out the other side, we happened upon our next series of adventures.
Waterworks is New Zealand’s Quirkiest Theme Park. Completely tucked away along the 309 road, Waterworks is just 7km from Coromandel Town and boasts a raft of amazing, wacky, original entertainment features. Water is used in every fashion imaginable, there are fabulous displays – 70% of which are constructed from recycled materials and powered by water. We spent over 2 hours walking around this incredible place – stopping every few moments to read the entertaining billboards full of funnies and following the kids as they ran enthusiastically to the next attraction. A stunning waterhole beckoned as it reminded me of the swimming spots of my youth, but alas it was too cold to swim that day. I imagine it would be a beautiful place to be in the height of Summer – bombing off the plank into the river. We ate lunch in the cafe and dragged the kids away, almost kicking and screaming, such was the fun they were having. We highly recommend this place for a family day out. It was so unexpected and so different from anything we have been to before so it got a big thumbs up from all of us.
We moved to Coromandel Town from here and set up camp in our final nights’ accommodation – the very cute eco-style Hush Boutique. This was an accommodation option with a difference. It didn’t work so well for us as a family of five, but is a great set up for couples wanting a nice getaway or as a venue to rent out all the little huts for a wedding or family get together. A collection of cosy studios are set amongst beautiful New Zealand bush, sleeping 2 – 4 people, with the joy of a comfortable bed, crisp white linen and fluffy towels. The things no one can do with out are included in each room – fridge, hot drink making facilities, heating, cooling and super soft blankets. There’s even a TV and free wifi which didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated by my lot.
For dinner in Coromandel Town we visited The Pepper Tree Restaurant and Bar. Majestically situated in the heart of Coromandel Township, this was a unique dining experience rich in Coromandel history. Our wait staff were amazing and the menu was expansive. The kids were treated to a wonderful children’s menu and enjoyed each of their meals. Dessert was extraordinary and a talking point all the way home – the apple berry crumble the highlight. Shane enjoyed a perfectly cooked Eye Fillet and I went for a Seafood broth that hit the spot. It was a cold night outside so we loved the open fire and were sad to leave and venture back to our little huts.
The following day we were homeward bound, but not before enjoying two last standouts of the Coromandel region.
First up, Driving Creek Railway. The rain began as we parked our cars and walked up to the railway, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We have a train-mad little guy so we were all excited to see how much he was going to enjoy this activity. The misty ambience added to the beauty of the experience and our train driver, passionate about his job and the place at which he worked, gave us a wonderful history of the area. We loved our train ride up and back down and the views from the top were spectacular.
From here we journeyed back to Auckland but via Thames. The drive was lovely, meandering around the coastline and making our way to Waiomu Beach Cafe. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much – thinking what could possibly be special about a little cafe on the side of the road overlooking the sea but can I tell you, this was my top pick for dining experience on our entire trip. The cafe itself was humble in it’s decor and homely, but so warm and welcoming. Julie, the owner, was so lovely. The menu was gigantic and absolutely everything sounded amazing. After a lengthy deliberation I decided on the Creamy Mushrooms on Toast which was simply amazing and Shane had the Sticky Ginger Chicken on Coconut Rice which was also outstanding. The kids had incredible homemade Ham & Pineapple pizzas that I wanted to devour and my green juice was just what I felt like after a few days without my regular intake of fresh vegetables. Highly, highly recommend this joint and if you usually turn right at the Kopu Bridge roundabout (away from Thames to go up over the saddle), it’s well worth driving to or from The Coromandel via this route.
My kids talk about this trip so frequently. They ask all the time when we can go back to The Coromandel and visit some of our favourite spots from this adventure. Travelling with littles can be so fun and next week we are heading up to explore Northland. But if you’re searching for something to do for these school holidays, head to The Coromandel – there are so many amazing things to do!
* this post was made possible thanks to Coromandel Tourism