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For those who have spent a holiday there the name Coromandel conjures up pictures of beautiful sandy sheltered beaches, bush-clad slopes, gold-mining history and getting away to a different world.

The Coromandel Peninsula lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Hauraki Gulf and the fact that it is only an hour and a half's drive south east of Auckland adds to its appeal as a holiday destination for Aucklanders.

In the early years settlers on the peninsula were attracted by gold mining, logging and gum digging, but there is little sign today of the outlying settlements which often had schools, halls, hotels and shops. At the height of the gold rush days during the 1880s and through to the early 1900s the population of Coromandel was well over 12,000 and it had 19 hotels. Some of the old buildings are still standing today. The present population is over 7000, but it increases to many times that figure in the holiday season.

Whitianga Beach has many shops and motels and holiday makers enjoy relaxing on the beaches or taking part in the more energetic water sports, fishing and diving.

Hot Water Beach is famous for its hot water stream under the sand, and Pauanui Beach has recently developed canals which let visitors on exclusive holidays take their boats to their doorstep. Other popular beaches include Waihi, also famous as a gold mining region, and Whangamata.

The mining town of Thames is the largest town on the Peninsula with a population of 6,500. Attractions in the town include shopping for crafts and visiting museums. This is a popular, fast growing destination for backpackers attracted by the many outdoor activities ranging from cycling through forests, fishing and diving to visiting lonely beaches and amazing coastal scenery.

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