Isobel Benesch explores the natural spoils of the Coromandel's Mercury Bay.
With over 20 kilometers of pristine coastline, Mercury Bay is home to some of the more famous and well-known beaches and landmarks across New Zealand. With long stretches of apricot-coloured sand, turquoise waters, and dynamic coastline, you’re spoilt for choice in natural playgrounds when you make your way to this unique part of the country. Below we have included a list of our favourite beaches in Mercury Bay and a family-friendly home base to explore them all from.
Nestled into a quiet, peaceful area of the Coromandel, you will find the perfect place for you and your little ones to relax and recharge at Flaxmill Bay. With the option to choose from a campground complete with a gorgeous communal space for cooking, eating, and gathering or the beautifully-styled, fully-equipped, modern and spacious one- to three-bedroom cottages, Flaxmill Bay has options for all types of holidays. Located in close proximity to white sand beaches, picturesque bush walks, and secluded bays, Flaxmill Bay is the ideal home base for families of all sizes looking for a boutique-like getaway to explore all that the Coromandel has to offer. Located five minutes away from the ferry landing to Whitianga and only a 10-15 minute drive from the famous Hot Water Beach, Hahei and Cathedral Cove Walkway, Flaxmill Bay is hidden away from the touristy areas, but close enough to access them on a whim.
A horseshoe bay found nestled at the edge of a small community, Cooks Beach is a wide expanse of beach with small waves making it safe for young children. Near the center of the bay, you’ll find a toilet block, a playground along the water’s edge, a large grassy field, and miles of white sand stretching to your right and left that on most days you will have all to yourself. At the western end of the beach, there is an estuary that flows into the ocean which is fun for all ages to play or fish in, and at low tide the kids will revel exploring the multitude of caves found in the cliff, including one a short swim from shore.
If you don’t feel like venturing far, just across the street from Flaxmill Bay, you will find a sheltered, quiet bay that’s perfect for kids to explore, adventure, and potter around. With a staggering arch naturally carved out of the sandstone over the years and various rocks of all shapes and sizes scattered at the water’s edge at low tide, this bay is a unique, natural playground for all ages.
Drive up to Shakespeare Cliff to take in the views from above and then make your way down to Lonely Bay for an idyllic, picture-perfect beach day. With white sand and tropical-like turquoise waters, this secluded beach is only accessible through a 5-10 minute tramp down a marked trail and a flight of stairs, and as you step onto this isolated beach you’ll feel as though you’ve been cast onto a deserted island. The overhanging Putakawas make great climbing trees and there’s lots of small crevasses and caves to explore along either end of the bay.
Hot Water Beach
One of the best known beaches in the Coromandel, Hot Water Beach is a must visit no matter the time of year or the number of times you have been in the past. With natural hot springs bubbling just beneath the surface of the golden sand, visit anytime two hours before or after low tide to dig your very own “spa pool” right at the water’s edge. Hot Water Beach is always a unique and exciting experience for all ages.