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Coromandel is the last 'major' but tiny town along the way where you'll be able sort out your banking and supermarket supplies. It's an enjoyable picturesque and historic place to stop with Victorian wooden buildings and a gold-rush past. When gold was discovered in 1852 at Driving Creek, the town was stormed by fortune hunters. Unfortunately for them, they were soon to discover that the gold 'oh so close' could only be extracted with the help of hardcore machinery. They left the town to its Kauri interests. Coromandel owes its name to the first ship to stop here in 1810?. The ship was part of the British Admiralty and sought to further Cook's outline of the Hauraki Gulf as well as to stock up on kauri masts and spars.
The Coromandel Historical Museum, 841 Rings Road, is a small, historic building which was once the Old School of Mines (1898). Today, the museum provides an anthropological vista into the day. The life of the early miners and their time has been captured in a collection of old black and white photos while the displays include mining and household relics of the era.
The Driving Creek Railway
Coromandel's main tourist attraction, the railway is the only narrow-gauge mountain railway in the country. The railway is a testament to kiwi ingenuity and determination. Predominantly constructed by hand, the railway came into being due to a local potter who sought transport to the clay in the hills. The trip starts in the pottery with its kilns, workshops and souvenirs. Once aboard, running commentary will enlighten you on the engineering breakthroughs which enabled viaducts, tunnels and its pinnacle achievement of the 2 tiered viaduct which crosses a deep ravine. As long as you don't suffer from vertigo, you'll be impressed by these custom made articulated diesel trains which travel along a track a mere 381mm wide, climbing 120m over 3km. The views need no explanation. You'll be able to see the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, the Hunua Ranges and the Coromandel Town. You'll find it at Driving Creek Road from 10am-2pm, $9/1 hour.
Gold Stamper Battery
If you haven't popped into one yet, this is your chance to try your hand at gold-panning. The Battery sports 100 year old machines which demonstrate how gold is extracted and processed. It's on Buffalo Road, open from 10am-4pm, $4 for a guided tour and an extra $5 for gold panning.