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AutoTrader NZ
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Published 3 September 2020

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12Backward glances Have a good look around the district and town of Coromandel. It’s a pleasant little ‘colonial town’, with around 20 of the original buildings from its boom time still in evidence. Although many of them are privately owned and you can’t actually go inside them, they give you an idea of the town in the 1880-90s period.

The i-Site is located in the former Courthouse at 355 Kapanga Road; it was built in 1873. The school of Mines (1898) on Rings Road is now a mining museum. One of the oldest houses is Ring’s House on 2365 Rings Road, which was built in 1854 for Charles Ring and remained in the family until 1968. Pick up a Historic Places Trust brochure from the i-Site if you would like to see other buildings and want more specific information or just look out for old colonial buildings as you drive.

13Art in situ There are around 200 artists living on the Coromandel Peninsula, those who live on the west coast are undoubtedly inspired by their wild and largely unsullied surroundings. Many of them exhibit in the Thames Society of Arts building at Tararua, which was once a school built by miner’s subscription in the 1870s.

The Chilean-born painter, Delano, and Marianne Braithwaite both live in Thames and welcome studio visits by prior arrangement. In the Owl’s Rest studio on Coroglen Road, Tapu, Moya Lowe produces her whimsical pictures; a little further along the same road, visitors are invited to the Mahara Garden Pottery and Sculpture Park. Another potter, Stuart Fyfe, on Preeces Point Road, Coromandel, fashions sculptural pieces from terracotta and high-fired stoneware; and on Tiki Road, Lorraine Abernathy creates original art dolls, many of which end up in collections around the world. At The Source, on Kapanga Road, Louise Penberthy makes lost and forgotten things into attractive jewellery. Most artists welcome visitors to their studios but ask you to ring first. Phone numbers and information can be obtained from the i-Site.

14Fishy business Fishing options along this coast, even if you don’t have your own boat, are numerous. Tours and charters leave from almost anywhere there is a launching or landing jetty. Anglers Lodge, in Amodeo Bay near Colville, advertises a snapper fishing operation with the catchy line (pun intended) “Feel ya rod nod”. Top shelf charters are located in Tapu, just north of Thames, and Mussel Barge Snapper Safaris leaves from Te Kouma Road. Papa Aro Island Adventures, 11 kilometres north of Coromandel, run an “eco” bird watching and mussel farm tour as well as three-hour long soft-bait fishing trips. For more adventurous fisher people there is a company or two who will take you out fishing in a kayak – apparently with some success.

15Sea treats If you don’t want to bag your fish from the sea, there are several places that will send you back to the camping ground with your own catch. In Thames the Wholesale Fishery in Queen Street sells fresh scallops, mussels, roe, trevally, snapper and any thing else they have caught in the nets that day. On the roadside about seven kilometres south of Thames is Coromandel’s Oyster House, a privately run operation that harvests its own oyster farm. You know the shellfish are fresh because you can see them beg off-loaded from the trucks. As you enter Coromandel Township, on the left is the Coromandel Smoking Co., which has great range of seafood, including smoked salmon, kingfish, tuna, snapper trevally, roe, khawai, and mackerel. Its delicious seafood platters are ready to eat and handy for picnics or barbecues. www.autotrader.co.nz

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