Tairua, along with its twin town Pauanui that is across the harbour, are both on the Coromandel east coast (Pacific), 150km east of Auckland and some two hours north of Rotorua. Tairua grew as a holiday resort where many New Zealanders have their holiday homes (baches). It's where they come for weekends and main holidays to relax, fish, sail, walk, cycle, play golf and entertain friends and family. But in recent years these towns have become touring centres for visitors from all over the world wanting to explore the whole of the Coromandel. All of the main sites are easy to get to for the day, with some of the most famous less than 30 minutes away. Two of these 'must-see' spots, Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove are just 25km drive. The Coromandel east and north coasts have countless fabulous beaches with gorgeous sand, each with their own character – some wild and isolated, some gentle with settlements, some on main routes, some requiring a hike through native bush to get there and almost all with some amazing wildlife – shore birds and sea mammals. Running down the spine of the peninsula is the Coromandel mountain range, high peaks formed by ancient volcanos, covered in forest. And the region's many historic towns, such as Coromandel, Thames and Waihi are all well worth a visit.BOOK ONLINE
Tairua lies between the Pacific Ocean and the harbour, under the magnificent Mt Paku. The views from the top are breathtaking. The harbour – where the Tairua River meets the Pacific – is tidal, the view changes constantly, from sandy expanse to glassy or rippling sea. Scores of wading and shore birds feed and nest here. The ocean beach is pure sand, with great surf, nesting birds, as well as offering a great walk. In town there are shops, services, markets, cafés, bakers, takeaways, bars and restaurants and a golf course. Tairua also has some fascinating local history – try the walking trail. Ferry links with Pauanui.
Hot Water Beach
Something for your 'Bucket List' and less than 30 minutes from Tairua! For two hours either side of low tide, natural springs pump hot water close to the surface. This is when visitors get out their spades and start digging their own personal hot tubs in the sand. Buckets are useful too, as the spring water can be so hot that is needs to be cooled down with Pacific sea water. The beach is large with great surf, but the springs cover a small area, so it can be crowded. Our tip – if you don't find space to dig your own tub, wait a while and a pre-dug one will become free!
One of the world's most photographed beaches – Cathedral Cove is named after a huge arched cavern through white rock, joining two beautiful secluded coves. The beach is white sand, with waterfalls, rocky islets for jumping into the sea, and a background of shady pohutukawa trees. The Cove can be reached by foot (a 45-60-minute walk each way from the car park near Hahei) or boat (water taxi or sea kayak from Hahei). Or scenic boat trips from Whitianga and Hahei which take you close but don't land there.
On the north west coast is the historic and picturesque Coromandel Town. Set on a large natural harbour, with its extensive green-lip mussel, salmon and oyster farms, the town has kept much of its 19th century architecture, when it was a booming gold mining and logging town. Nowadays it is quiet and charming, an artist's haven with great cafés. The Driving Creek Railway trip through the forest-clad mountains is also very popular. Try the spectacular route 309 across the mountains to get there.
Within easy reach of Harbour View are some truly stunning beaches. A few minutes south is Opoutere, a wild Pacific beach with a seabird breeding area at the sandspit, one of the best places in New Zealand for discovering native birds. Just north is Te Karo Bay, also known as Sailors Grave, a popular surf and picnic spot. On the north coast is one of the 'world's best beaches', New Chums, an unspoiled white-sand crescent with forest backdrop and glistening waters.
Back across the steep and windy highway towards Auckland on the west coast is the historic and vibrant town of Thames. Its heritage as a mining and timber town and a centre for local farming community has been retained, with museums, archives, heritage festivals and walks. Shoppers here will find local produce, arts and crafts. Thames is also the starting point for walks into the ranges, especially to and around the Pinnacles, and for exploring the Thames Coast further north.