The New Zealand Walks for Wimps series provides essential information about short, relatively easy hikes around New Zealand. Today we’re on the Coromandel Peninsula, stopping at the Tokatea Lookout, Kennedy Bay, and walking the Matamataharakeke Track in Waikawau Bay. Click on the map markers and links on the right for more great easy NZ walks!
Nearest town: Coromandel Town
Type of track: loop
Official distance: 6.5 km
Official time: 3 hours
Jenny’s time: about 4 hours
Toilets: at the Waikawau Bay Campsite
Tips: Park on the beach side of the road as soon as you enter Waikawau Bay from the South. Cross the road into the Pump Paddock and go right to the back of it on the left side to find the start of the track.
A great way to spend a day out of Coromandel town is on the East coast of the Coromandel peninsula, in the Kennedy Bay/Waikawau Bay area.
You could start by driving North out of Coromandel town, and taking the Kennedy Bay road over the hill. Stop for a quick 10 minute climb to the Tokatea Lookout, from where you can see right down to Coromandel Town and across the peninsula to Kennedy Bay the other way. It’s pretty spectacular!
From Tokatea Lookout continue on down the road to Kennedy Bay, where you can drive right out onto to the beach on a rough little road. A walk here is quiet and peaceful.
The road through Kennedy Bay also crosses Omoho stream, which flows out into the bay. There are lots of good places here to spot birds, and I spent ages here chasing down a couple of elusive kingfishers.
Then you can continue on to gorgeous Waikawau Bay, stopping along the way for a view of its long arc of peach-coloured sand.
It’s a relatively easy three hour walk, starting at the back of the Pump paddock. I admit, I had a bit of trouble figuring out where this was, and drove past it and then back before I just parked and wandered around to look at some signs. But FYI, if you’re coming from the South, look to your left as soon as you arrive in the bay. You’ll see part of the campground. This was closed when I was there in winter, but I just hopped over the gate and walked through the campground, veering slightly left to the forest at the back of the area where the Matamataharakeke track starts.
There’s a sign at the start that says ‘track’ and one detailing different parts of the trail. You’re following in the footsteps of gold miners and loggers, who used to take this track to get between Waikawau and Kennedy Bay.
The first bit is relatively flat, with a few small stream crossings. I guess the size of these would depend on how much rain there’d been recently!
After a while it starts to go up and eventually you find yourself walking along a ridge with trees on either side. When there’s a break in the trees there are great views down into the valley you just walked through and on the other side over to Kennedy Bay.
When you’ve gone up quite a long way you’ll reach a fork in the path with a sign that says ‘Ridge Return’ take the left fork (away from where the sign indicates) and it’ll take you to a gate. Go through the gate and up onto the hill where there’s a small rock cairn at the viewpoint! From here you can see all the way back down to Waikawau Beach.
Return the way you came, take the track that says ‘Ridge Return’ and the steps will start to go down, quite steeply at times. This takes you back to just about where you started (a little further down the road) in about an hour, with a few stops to look at the great views!
Then you’re free to hang out on the beach. Enjoy!