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Map of Peninsula
Map of Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula is located to the east of Auckland, across the Hauraki Gulf.  It’s a popular weekend destination with Aucklanders, for its rugged beauty and its proximity.  It shares its name with the southeastern coastal area of India, not because of any particular resemblance, but to commemorate the 1820 arrival of the HMS Coromandel, which came to the area to acquire kauri wood for the Royal Navy.  The native kauri trees grow to immense size, and were well suited to naval uses, among others.  Many kauris fell to logging during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, but many more were lost to fires deliberately set to clear land for farming.  Only 10% of the original forest remains, but the trees are now protected and are being replanted in some places.  They take hundreds of years to grow to respectable size, though.  Gold mining was also ongoing in the Coromandel during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, but has been mostly discontinued.  The interior of the peninsula is occupied by the Coromandel Mountain Range, and human habitation is primarily limited to the coastlines.  The largest city in the Coromandel is Thames, located at the western base of the peninsula, and this is where we found the Coastal Motor Lodge.

Downtown Thames
Downtown Thames
Coastal Motor Lodge
The Coastal Motor Lodge

The Coastal Motor Lodge offers individual A-frame units with kitchenettes.  This can be a great money-saver for those willing to prepare their own meals while on vacation.  We took some advantage of this, stocking up at the Pak ‘n’ Save in the main part of town.  The New Zealand Qualmark Star Grading System, which ranks accommodations on a one- to five-star scale, has bestowed four upon the Coastal Motor Lodge, meaning excellent, and we were in full agreement.  We also found the nearby scenery to be pleasant - on one side the Lodge property sits up against the Coromandel Range, and rain forest can be seen to start immediately, and on the other side is the two-lane highway, followed by the Firth of Thames, a southeastern bulge in the Hauraki Gulf. We didn't get a chance to meet the Lodge owners, as they were on a vacation of their own, but the couple managing the place in their absence were friendly and helpful, explaining many things about the Peninsula and making recommendations of things to see and do.

Venus de Milo at the Coastal Motor Lodge
Venus de Milo at the Coastal Motor Lodge
Bob at the Coastal Motor Lodge
Bob at the Coastal Motor Lodge

One of their recommendations was something we’d already discovered through travel books and the Internet, the Driving Creek Railway, and in fact we’d already made a reservation for the morning at 10 AM.   The Driving Creek Railway is located near Coromandel Town, in the northern part of the peninsula, so we had to get out of bed earlier than usual and drive up the scenic but somewhat treacherous highway to get there in time.  But as it turned out, we made it with time to spare.

Highway 25 Along Shoreline
Highway 25 Along Shoreline
Kirita Bay
Kirita Bay
Kirita Bay
Kirita Bay (WMV Video, 3.5 MB)
Connie and Bob
Connie and Bob

Hill, Road and Firth of Thames
Hill, Road and Firth of Thames

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