Nearest town: Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula
Type of track: there and back
Official distance: I don’t know! Not far – maybe 500 metre each way.
Official time: 45 minutes return
Jenny’s time: 1 hour 20 minutes return
Toilets: at the grassy carpark at the start of the walk
Tips: Wear sunscreen and a hat. There’s no shade!
Opito Bay doesn’t seem to get mentioned much on the Coromandel. I don’t know why; it’s gorgeous! A long, curving expanse of sandy beach with super clear blue water leads to a pā (fort) site on a huge headland at the end.
To get there, take SH25 to Kuaotunu, between Coromandel Town and Whitianga. Take Black Jack Road past the wee village, and it very shortly turns into a gravel road which winds up and over the hillside to Otama, where sand dunes line yet another long sandy beach.
From here the road keeps going, winding over another hill to Opito Bay, where a decent sized community of baches (NZ holiday homes) resides.
Right at the end of the road is a grassy area where self-contained vehicles can camp in a very limited space.
The rest is carpark. From here go down to the beach and scramble over the rocks to the right to get to the next expanse of beach. I’m pretty sure this is doable at high tide but it could be a bit close.
Once you get down to the end of the beach a steep staircase goes up the hill, zig zagging back on itself once or twice and finally leading to a relatively flat track out to the end of the headland. Don’t worry, it’s steep but not long!
From here there are spectacular views out to some outlying islands, back to the far side of the headland, and straight down into the ultra-clear blue waters of the bay you just walked along.
Because this is a pā site, there are earthworks to explore, including terraces, pits, and defensive ditches. Be careful as you walk through the long grass, as it can easily hide holes!
The end of the point is a great spot to sit in the sun and contemplate life for a while. I guess if you’re lucky you might spot some dolphins or even whales but I never seem to be that lucky!
Go back the same way you came and enjoy the sunshine and views!
There’s another side track off the beach a little before the stairs, across a farm to Crayfish Bay. I didn’t go because I was running out of daylight and the bay would have been in shade anyway, but I would love to go back and check it out!