At this time of year, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be. For a passionate traveller and travel blogger, my favourite destination is very, very close to home.
Each Summer as soon as school ends, we pack up our house and offices (the husband’s included) and relocate to the Coromandel – about 2 hours drive from Auckland.
It doesn’t matter where we have been during the year, how wonderful the places were, how special the memories are – there is no place like home.
For those travelling to NZ, getting accomodation in the Coromandel between December 24 and about the 15th of Jan is virtually impossible. New Zealand shuts down and heads to the beach, but if you can come after that period, then the very best holidays can be had.
New Zealand offers amazing relaxation, outdoor adventures and world renowned kiwi hospitality. But for all the main attractions and places, the best of a Kiwi summer is found by jumping in a car and heading to the beach – any beach will do.
Given nowhere in NZ is much more than a hour or so drive to the beach and we are surrounded by water, its where we all head and most Kiwi’s will have a favourite.
For our family, the beach is Matarangi – 4.5 km long white sand beach with a gentle slope to the sea. It’s family friendly, with its own shops for the essentials and a cafe for when you can’t be bothered cooking.
Whitianga or Coromandel town offer larger shops and more choice and both are 20 minutes away by car (Whitianga has two supermarkets). Both offer great cafes and restaurants if you don’t feel like cooking and you can’t go past Luke’s Kitchen for a pizza and a beer by the sea in Kuaotuna.
The secret beach at the end of Whangapoua, called New Chumms is definitely worth a visit. Accessible only on foot and at low tide by following a track around the bluff, it is a pilgrimage that most locals do every summer. You won’t find a more pristine, untouched beach in the country, although with the secret out, it does fill up over the summer months. There is nothing better than staking out a shaded spot under a pohutakawa tree and settling in for a swim and snooze – just don’t linger too close to high tide – or it will be a wet walk back.
Head to Opito Bay or Otama to swim or trek around the walking track that used to be Bluff road. You won’t run out of interesting walks littered with stunning scenery, none of which are too challenging, but you can tackle plenty of more challenging hikes in the hills nearby.
If you are planning a visit – your options for accomodation are limited to the Golf club villas or renting someone’s beach house. The best sites for this part of town are http://www.bookabach.co.nz, http://www.bachcare.co.nz. or the local real estate agent.
You’ll find everything from sections with a utility on them for camping right through to stunning beachfront properties. Either way, Matarangi offers up a great slice of Kiwi magic particularly after the 15th of January when many head back to the office.
For us it has been home for 12 summers and I can’t imagine spending Christmas anywhere else.
Highlights from small heights
What can I say? Matarangi is perfect.
It has got the entertainemnt of being overseas in the form of boogie-boarding and swimming, yet the ability to refuse it and just lie down and read a book that Mum won’t let me do when I’m supposed to be sightseeing. Its got the feeling of a home and the ability to settle in and not pack up every few days that the overseas holiday certainly does not.
I can’t complain about the view either, there’s nothing quite like Matarangi sunsets on the beach…and noting like the-once-in-a-summer-or-two storm that makes sure I get to read all day.
The only downside:…um tell me when you figure it out.
Charlotte’s top two tips: Go there and um…go there.