This summer we decided to do a tour of the Coromandel area as my Southland born and bred partner had never been around the Coromandel. I have the luxury of having parents that have moved to the holiday destination of Whangamata two years ago, and this made our tour a bit easier. There are many pamphlets at the local i-sites as to what beaches to target, but over the coming weeks I will share the stories of our travels, the delights and discoveries of the Coromandel peninsula to help with your travels.
Cooks Beach, is known as one of the ‘must-see’ beaches along the Coromandel peninsula. It is located on the east coast of the Coromandel and a 2 and a half hour drive from Auckland, or just over an hour from Thames. Named after James Cook who first sailed to the beach in the mid-1700s, some of the natural sights to see are the Shakespeare Cliffs and the Purangi Estuary. Cooks Beach is situated in the stunning Mercury Bay and off into the horizon you can spot a myriad of small islands. Cooks Beach is very sheltered and as such the beach has a lazy, calm feel to it. With good boat access and public facilities the beach can be relatively populated, but there is definitely more space to find your patch of sand than at the nearby Whitianga beaches.
With a series of small bays (Flaxmill, Maramaratotara and Lonely Bays) dotted near to Cooks Beach, the only winery (Mercury Bay Estate) in the region and a ferry landing there really is a lot to do in and around Cooks Beach, if god forbid you get sick of lazying around in sun on the beach, or floating in the gentle surf. The sand is soft, and the water can get really warm in the summer (20.4 degrees celsius when we visited late December), and Cooks Beach, really seems like the perfect beach to spend an entire summer at.
The ferry landing offers a short ferry ride (1.5 minutes) across the channel to Whitianga, which is one of the largest towns on the Coromandel peninsula. For a small fee of $3.50 (one way) you can cross the channel to Whitianga and get any shopping you want done, before skipping back across to Cooks Beach at your leisure. The ferry runs continuously late into the night in the summer months.
One day, if we do decide to go back it would be interesting to look into the Glass Bottom Boat and what this would offer. I am not sure on the value for money with this attraction as I have never tried it, as its market is for the overseas traveler to Cooks Beach, which I am not. I also did not get the pleasure of popping over to Lonely Bay which I would really would like to see. Our visit mostly centered around a visit to Mercury Bay Estate winery and it did not disappoint, but more on that later.