The bush-clad Kauaeranga Valley in the southern Coromandel is part of the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Hauraki District, and is a short drive from Thames. The valley includes numerous walks and swimming spots, and includes a visitor centre and nine campgrounds all managed by DOC.
Avi Holzapfel, DOC’s Hauraki Operations Manager, says the Kauaeranga Valley camping experience is particularly popular with families – some of whom have been visiting the valley for 30 years for a yearly holiday.
“We have some regular visitors for whom the valley is their annual get-away,” Avi Holzapfel says.
“They come for the bush-clad walks, the swimming, the chance to explore the forest and spend time in nature. It’s a different experience to the traditional New Zealand beach-side camping holiday.”
DOC’s Hauraki and Coromandel district staff anticipate a greater demand for campground sites on the peninsula this summer, as COVID-19 curtails the usual international travel plans for many New Zealanders.
“The Coromandel Peninsula is traditionally very busy over the summer period and we expect to see a real spike in bookings for the summer of 2020-2021,” he says.
“Our advice to people considering a camping holiday in the Kauaeranga Valley is to book early.”
The Southern Coromandel forest also offers visitors a chance to see some of New Zealand’s endemic species including majestic kauri trees, the native New Zealand falcon/karerea – and for the more adventurous night walkers, the secretive Archey’s and Hochstetter’s frogs, or the Coromandel brown kiwi.
The Coromandel forests also offer a range of bush walks for people of all fitness levels and abilities – including some expansive views from the various ridgelines in the forest. The DOC campgrounds can serve as a base for visitors to head deeper into the forest and spend time in the Pinnacles and Crosbie’s huts higher in the mountains.
Avi Holzapfel says DOC puts significant effort and resource into protecting native species found in the southern Coromandel forest, and it will be the site for an upcoming Tiakina Ngā Manu operation to control introduced predators.