Kelly Lynch leaves her stress far behind on a day trip down to Coro.

The best way to beat the traffic to coromandel is on a boat. Either for a day trip or weekend getaway, 360 discovery cruises leave from downtown auckland to hannaford's wharf in coromandel, with a return trip in the late afternoon. Collected at the wharf by coromandel adventures passengers are transported to nearby coromandel town.

It is commonly known as coro and on saturdays there is a good mix of locals and visitors along the main kapanga rd, buying the essentials from the old colonial stores and cottages open for business: Hardware, stationery, there's a butchery, gift shops and a collective selling local art. Sundays are a lot sleepier.

Scattered among stores is a generous array of bars, cafes and eateries. The signature culinary hero is mussels, served many ways: Chowder, fritters, soaked in wine, steamed - any way you like. A favourite spot is pepper tree restaurant, partially shaded by an elegant 105-year-old pepper tree. Around the corner cafe, umu caters well for children.

There are several walks from town, one of them along the coastline and bicycles can be hired from the coromandel top 10 holiday park. The town is a perfect base to explore the bush-clad coromandel ranges, its waterfalls, forest and magical views.

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Locally creative
about to celebrate 13 years in business, the eight artists who make up coromandel artist collective, operate the source - an art shop in the centre of town that sells pieces created only by local artists.

The store is full of unique coromandel treasures, jewellery, photographs, paintings, scarves, weaving and pottery.

• the source, 32 kapanga rd coromandelartstour.co.nz

Driving Creek Rail. Photo / Kelly Lynch
Driving Creek Rail. Photo / Kelly Lynch

Rail

Driving Creek Railway is an ingenious narrow-gauge train ride created by renowned potter barry brickell. The climb is though native bush passing his pottery to wide views at the eyefull tower. A spectacular pottery piece is a 10m high kauri that can be found on a walk in the wildlife sanctuary and sculpture park.

• driving creek railway, driving creek rd, 07 866 8703.

Scenic walk

On Wharf Rd is access to kauri block track. Wide and metal chipped, it starts off with 55 stairs and continues on an incline under the shade of pine trees. After 15 minutes from an old pa site there are 360-degree vistas.

kauri forest experience
Coromandel Adventures takes guided forest walks from along the old 309 rd. It is impressive to stand in a grove of kauri, dwarfed by wide trunks and stare up at lofty branches knowing they are between 600 to 800 years young.

Seafood
Seafood stars on most menus in town, but the coromandel smoking company sells fresh, smoked, steamed and marinated mussels, and scallops, oysters, smoked trevally and kahawai from their store. Mussel pate is also an option but the biggest seller are marinated garlic mussels.

Bush walk through the Coromandel. Photo / Kelly Lynch
Bush walk through the Coromandel. Photo / Kelly Lynch

• pepper tree restaurant and bar, 31 kapanga rd, 07 866 8211. peppertreerestaurant.co.nz

• Umu restaurant and café, 22 wharf rd. facebook.com/umucafe

• The Coromandel Smoking Co, 70 tiki rd, 07 866 8793. corosmoke.co.nz
Kelly Lynch was hosted by 360 Discovery Cruises, Coromandel Adventures and Top 10 Holiday park.


Fact box

• 360 discovery cruises operates a ferry service from downtown auckland to the coromandel, all year round. Phone 09 307 8005 360discovery.co.nz

• There are plenty of accommodation choices,.five minutes walk from the hub is the very comfortable top 10 holiday park. There is a pool, bicycle hire and playground
phone 0800 267646 coromandeltop10.co.nz

• Coromandel adventures, based in town, offers many guided tours and trips all over the peninsula
phone 0800 46 2676 coromandeladventures.co.nz

• For more information, coromandeltown.co.nz