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To Whangamata

If you've overspent a bit of time lazing around or exploring the peninsula and its bays you can make up for it here as there's precious little to see along the way. You'll pass plenty of orchards where you can pick your own fruit if you like. Coroglen is a beautiful rural town where you can go horse riding or walking.

Tairua meaning 'Two Sides' is another holiday resort in an idyllic spot Head to Paku Drive which you'll find on the eastern side of Town. Mount Paku (178m) is a 15min walk from here. You'll see where the town gets its name when you reach the spectacular views at the twin peaks which look over the harbour, town, beaches and the neighbouring Pauanui. You can also see the twin Kauris at Twin Kauri Reserve (4km north), which rest by the side of the road. On a more sombre note, you can pay tribute to a sailor aboard the HMS Tortoise who lost his life in the surf in 1842. You'll find the grave if you go to the end of Sailor's Grave Road, cross the creek and then walk along the beach. Alternatively, you can head up to the Puketui Valley and walking amidst old gold mining relics and a 400m tunnel. If you know your rocks this is apparently also a good place for fossicking. To get there take Highway 25 and turn off at Hikuai and head southeastwards until you come to the signs.

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Located on a sandy beach looking toward Tairua, Pauanui is a seaside holiday town. Recent development has somewhat commercialised the area and you'll probably find little to hold your interest here for very long. From the southern end of the beach you can take a short walk to Mt Pauanui (367m) where you'll be rewarded with a great panorama.

Opoutere will come as a nice surprise after Pauanui. The settlement all fits snugly into a single road comprising a few houses, hostel and a campsite. Opoutere's Beach is 4km of white sands, heaps of birds and plentiful shellfish. Sitting neatly in front of a reserve, the beach is fortunately also protected from development. Don't let the beauty mislead you, the underwater currents both on the beach and in the estuary can be deadly.

Just down the road from the hostel, you can choose between 2 tracks which will take you to Ocean Beach. You'll come to a fork. The left-hand fork is a short cut (800m/10min/one way) which takes you through mingimingi, lupin, pines and finally on to the beach. The right hand fork (1.25m/15min/one way) takes you into the pine forest, by the estuary and onto a sandspit. You should be able to see some native kiwi birds here as the sandspit is a bird sanctuary for oystercatchers, tern and dotterels (you'll find the area cordoned off during the breeding season from November to March. Then cross the spit and you'll find yourself on Ocean Beach with its impressive rolling white waves.

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