The New Zealand Walks for Wimps series provides essential information about short, relatively easy hikes around New Zealand. Today we’re at the Northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula, doing one of my absolute favourite NZ walks, the Coromandel Walkway. Click on the map markers and links on the right for more great easy NZ walks!
Nearest town: Coromandel Town
Type of track: one way, or there and back
Official distance: 10 km
Official time: 3.5 hours one way; Fletcher Bay to lookout 2 hours, lookout to Stony Bay 1.5 hours.
Jenny’s time: Fletcher Bay to Lookout and back, 6 hours. Stony Bay to lookout and back, 3.5 hours.
Tips: Camp at either end and take your time! The lookout is perfect for a picnic.
One of my absolute favourite walks in New Zealand was the Coromandel Walkway. It’s just gorgeous.
The 10km hike connects Fletcher Bay to Stony Bay, right at the tip of the Coromandel peninsula. It has ups and downs, fields and forests, beaches and exposed cliffs, and a dramatic viewpoint. It’s a million shades of green and blue in the trees and bushes and grass and water and sky. There are cows and well, more cows, plus lots of my favourite New Zealand birds.
I did this walkway from both ends, because I’m too slow and lazy (wimpy?) to do the entire thing in both directions in the same day! In fact, I did it from the Fletcher Bay end twice, but my friends and I didn’t get very far before we plonked ourselves down on the grass for a rest. We were so happy sitting there on the green grass in the sun that we just stayed there talking and didn’t go any further! Ah, well, these things happen.
Fletcher Bay amazed me once more with its beauty, and I happily checked into the DOC-run hostel there. I would have loved to camp, but it was winter and far too cold for me! It was all I could do to spend an hour outside under the dark sky, trying my hand at astrophotography.
Up early the next day, I went out to take some photos of the misty morning, checked out of the hostel, and started along the Coromandel Walkway.
The first part of the track goes up and down over stiles and through green fields of cows. The hills rolled off high into the distance on my right, and fell away to the beach on my left. The cows stared.
I came around the corner to high cliffs before the track descended through the forest to Poley Bay, where there’s a small rocky beach to explore.
But what goes down must come up (huh?) so from here the trail climbs steeply up again for a while, through manuka trees filled with noisy Tuis and then along the cliff and through the forest again to the turnoff for the viewpoint.
This is as far as I went on the Coromandel Walkway that day, having lunch and taking a million photos at the viewpoint before turning around to slowly make my way back to Fletcher Bay.
But now it felt incomplete. I hadn’t done the whole thing. So on another day I drove up the other side of the peninsula to Stony Bay, which, would you believe, is just as beautiful as Fletcher Bay!
From here it’s an easier walk, just a trail that slowly ascends through the forest for an hour and a half or so to the same viewpoint turnoff. But the thing is, while the forest is lovely, it blocks most of the views. Good thing there are a few birds around to help spice it up!
Coromandel Walkway Logistics:
The Coromandel Walkway can be done as a there and back track in one day, taking about 7 hours if you’re not slow like me. If you want to only do the walkway in one direction, you have a couple of options.
1. You can find someone else with a car, both drive up to Fletcher Bay, park one car, drive around to Stony Bay together, do the hike, then drive back from Fletcher Bay to Stony Bay to get the other car. If you’re coming from Coromandel Town that’s about 7 hours of driving though, even if you don’t stop. And it’s too pretty not to stop!
2. You can also do a tour with Coromandel Adventures or Coromandel Discovery, who will pick you up in Coromandel town, drive you to one end of the track, then pick you up from the other end and take you back. It’s a bit pricey though, and it might be trickier to stop for photos along the way.
But the best way? Throw your tent and some food in the car and take your time. Drive up the West side of the peninsula, camp at one of the DOC campgrounds (at Port Jackson, Fantail Bay, and Fletcher Bay), and spend a few days exploring the gorgeous beaches and small communities. Hike the Coromandel Walkway from this end, but also try the other tracks, such as the one at Fantail Bay and the Muriwai Walk.
If you don’t want to camp DOC also runs the hostel I stayed at in Fletcher Bay, another lodge at Waikawau Bay, and a small bach you can rent at Stony Bay. You’d probably want to book these in advance, especially in the summer. You could also check into Airbnbs in the area. (Click that link for a booking credit from me!)
Oh, and one more thing. This track also has a mountain bike option. It diverges from the main track so I don’t know what it’s like, but if you were hiking the whole thing in both directions you could use it as an alternate way back. It doesn’t stop at the viewpoint though, and obviously watch for bikes!
Have you hiked the Coromandel Walkway? What did you think? What was your favourite part?
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