Named after HMS Coromandel which visited the bay in 1820 to collect spars Coromandel Town has had quite an industrious history. Although the timber trade was providing the towns inhabitants with work in the early 1800's, it was the gold rush of the 1850's that contributed to the towns success and growth. The first gold strike, by Charles Ring, in 1852 was short lived when it was discovered the precious metal had to be hacked from rock with hand tools. Later in 1869 alluvial gold was found at Tokatea Hill and the boom started in earnest. The population soared to a staggering 10, 000 people compare with today's estimate of just 1,400.
Old buildings from these pioneering times can still be seen in the picturesque little town and there is also a gold mining museum. Craft shops and cafes also line the street.
About 3 kilometres north is Driving Creek Railway, a narrow gauge track that can take you into the heart of the Coromandel and its regenerating kauri forest.
Driving Creek Railway and Potteries has become a Coromandel icon. The dream of Barry Brickell was to establish a pottery workshop on his land. Using a railway he would have access to the clay on the land and the pine kiln fuel.
Over the next 15 years the railway developed until in 1990 it was finally licensed to carry fare paying passengers and ever since thousands of visitors have made the trip to Coromandel to experience this unique attraction. The 1 hour return train trip on the innovatively designed trains takes you through replanted native kauri forest and includes 2 spirals, 3 short tunnels, 5 reversing points and several large viaducts as it climbs up to the mountain-top terminus. The pottery is still producing and you can watch the artists at work as well as purchase items.
Glide through the forest on this unique zipline canopy tour and experience Coromandel's breath-taking native forest from all levels, as you fly above the trees and walk beneath the ferns. Guides will lead you on an unforgettable journey, to learn about Driving Creek’s transformation from kauri logging, gold mining and pastural farming, into a lush hand planted native forest, a haven for regenerating kauri trees and kiwi.