The Coromandel Coastal Walkway
The Coromandel Coastal Walkway offers a unique opportunity to walk the last frontier and become part of The Coromandel’s magnificent coastal landscape.
The walkway hugs the northern Coromandel coastline between Stony and Fletcher Bays, linking the top of the peninsula via an historic bridle path used by Maori and early European settlers. It is a well-established trail encompassing 10km of native forest and coastal farmland. It is permitted for use by mountain bikers and hikers and is graded by Department of Conservation as an Easy Walking track.
The trailhead is located at Stony Bay Campground in the east or, on the western side, Fletcher Bay Campground. Commercial tour operators based in Coromandel and Whitianga make the journey a seamless and stress-free experience, taking care of the driving, the navigation and all the logistics in order to make your trip a success. Allow a full day for the excursion, from pick-up to return.
During the walk, expect to wander a wide and winding coastal path under a cool canopy of giant tree ferns. Glimpse sailboats nestled in calm inlets on translucent turquoise water. Marvel at the dramatic Coromandel skyline featuring rugged Mt Moehau carpeted in dense forest. Gaze out upon the infinite Pacific Ocean, flecked with some of New Zealand’s most renowned offshore islands; Great Barrier (Aotea Island), Little Barrier and Cuvier (Repanga) Island.
Read on for suggestions to optimise your experience on The Coromandel Coastal Walkway.
A Family Expedition
White Star Station in Colville is an excellent option for families seeking accommodation enroute to the Coromandel Coastal Walkway. Set on a 1,260 hectare sheep and Hereford cattle farm beside the Coromandel Ranges, White Star Station provides a range of comfortable accommodation options for families. The bush lodges (sleeping up to 6 per lodge) offer an idyllic stay in rustic self-contained cabins near a fresh-water stream. There are several self-contained houses available for accommodating larger groups. White Star Station also offers horse treks suitable for everyone from the novice to more experienced rider.
Family members of all ages will enjoy walking the Coastal Walkway, as there is plenty to look at and listen out for along the way, including fascinating birdlife (watch for gannets spearing through the sky to seek fish from the water below) and magnificent scenery. Though the majority of the walk is flat, there is one valley halfway through the walk with a steep descent to Poley Bay and a steep climb back up the other side. Don’t be surprised to find the occasional cow on the track, as the walkway crosses a working farm and livestock are frequently grazing within the area.
A wonderful advantage for families hiking the Coastal Walkway is the beaches along the way. Start with a refreshing dip in the lake-like waters of Stony Bay, then paddle in the shallows at Poley Bay (though beware submerged rocks; this is not a safe swimming beach). Finish with a sandy swim on the shores of Fletcher Bay. There’s an old concrete bunker for the kids to explore there too, as well several knarled pohutukawa trees in which to climb or enjoy some shade. Allow 3-4 hours to experience the walk from Stony Bay to Fletcher Bay at a leisurely pace.
Hereford ‘n’ a Pickle in Colville is a family-friendly cafe and great place to stop for an ice cream and an espresso on the way home. The cafe boasts a rambling garden, outdoor seating area and children’s playground. Feast on hot pies, burgers or sandwiches for lunch, along with home baking and farm fresh preserves to take home.
An Assured Excursion for Active Retirees
Whether traveling alone or with a companion, if your aim is to walk the last frontier of The Coromandel with security and ease, the Coromandel Coastal Walkway is a must-do. Book a tour operator and benefit from their extensive local knowledge and informative commentary along the way. Tour operators offer self-guided or fully guided options and take the hassle out of navigating the challenging roads to the walk’s access points. You can be assured of a comfortable, quality excursion and trust your guide will be at the end of the walk to provide you with a hearty snack and reliable return transportation.
The gentle coastal track allows for plenty of time to pay attention to the sub-tropical flora and stunning scenery without fear of losing your footing. Don’t miss the five minute detour to the lookout (signposted about an hour into the walk from Stony Bay), as you will experience the walk’s most spectacular 360 degree views from this vantage point. A derelict shepherd's hut on the hillside north of Poley Bay hints at the history of the area and its rugged surrounds. It also provides a picturesque photo stop, with the hills and sea in the distance.
For a little luxury before or after walking the last frontier, Tangiaro Kiwi Retreat at Port Charles is a bush haven built for relaxing, replenishing and listening to the call of the kiwi residing in the area. Book your own alpine style chalet and take advantage of the kiwi night tours offered on-site. For an indulgent experience, book a massage and a spa and treat yourself to something stunning from the restaurant menu, such as fresh fish, steamed mussels or Silver Fern lamb shanks. Tangiora Kiwi Retreat offers accommodation seven days a week and the restaurant/cafe is also open to the public (check their website for opening hours).
The Last Frontier for Intrepid Adventurers
If independent exploration is high on your bucket list, set aside a window of time to camp in the northernmost Coromandel, then walk (or mountain bike) the Coromandel Coastal Walkway as a complete circuit.
The sprawling Stony Bay campground offers many tent sites with a fresh water stream rippling through its centre. Stay for a day or two and enjoy the remoteness of the location before undertaking the Coastal Walkway return journey, which can be completed within a day by keen and able hikers.
Starting at Stony Bay, follow the Coastal Walkway to Fletcher Bay Campground. Like Stony Bay, this is a vast and rambling spot where hikers and holidaymakers enjoy the isolation and untouched beauty of the area. Listen to frogs in the campsite creek, watch boats launch directly from the beach and sit under a shady tree to eat lunch before undertaking the return journey.
Follow the Coastal Walkway back to Stony Bay, or for a more challenging alternative, take the old stock route up the ridgeline from the derelict Poley Bay Hut where the track intersects with the Coastal Walkway. A steep climb will reward with startling panoramic views, then a long steep descent through the forest will bring you back to the southern side of Stony Bay Campground. Look out for two young Kauri tree groves toward the end of the trail.
For fit hikers, the return circuit can be walked within five hours, including view stops and a leisurely break for lunch. A soothing swim at Stony Bay is the perfect way to complete the walk, followed by a cold beverage and another night camping in one of The Coromandel’s most remote locations.
Final Note: Booking your Coromandel Coastal Walk itinerary with a local tour operator is highly recommended. It will ensure you are free to soak up the scenery enroute and are well-equipped to walk the last frontier.