Drive over the lush green hills from old Coromandel Town and you soon arrive at the quaint rural village of Colville.
Colville was once New Zealand’s capital of 1970’s hippy culture and a supply base for numerous alternative lifestyle communes. Today it is the last stop for provisions as you head up to the isolated northern holiday outposts of Port Jackson, Fletcher’s Bay and Port Charles. The General Store is a classic country store offering a huge variety of goods for the visitor and the local lifestyle farmer. Next door is the tiny, historic Post Office, which sells stamps and postcards and there’s also a cafe serving quality coffee. On Wharf Road are a motel, backpackers and motor camp.
This tiny town was once known as Cabbage Bay. Captain James Cook conferred the name and insisted that his crew eat cabbage tree leaves to guard against scurvy. Interestingly, cabbage tree leaves don’t feature on any respectable gourmet bush tucker list today.
Adventurous travellers who wish to go north of Colville have two choices. Go west at the Big Bay forks and a rough, unsealed road will lead you on a journey of discovery to the ‘Pohutukawa Cape,’ the unspoilt northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. Papa Aroha has glistening sea views to offshore islands. Mt Moehau begins to flex its broad shoulders above you as Amodeo Bay approaches. You pass Fantail Bay, Goat Bay and an old granite quarry, before topping a rise to look down on Port Jackson with a glorious view across the Hauraki Gulf. The road clings to cliff tops en route to Fletcher’s Bay, the start of the superb three hour Coromandel Walkway to Stony Bay.
The second choice is the eastern route, which heads over the saddle to the golden sands of Waikawau or north to the tidal expanse of Port Charles, Sandy Bay and Stony Bay to meet the Walkway.
The Colville region offers something really unique and special – absolute peace and privacy at dozens of remote sand or pebble beaches. Outdoor activities including tramping, fishing, diving, horse-riding, mountain biking, farm experiences and kayaking. Also fossicking for semi-precious gemstones such as carnelian, petrified wood and kauri gum.
Treat the northern peninsula with TLC – it is a very precious resource that needs to be protected and enjoyed for generations to come. The Moehau Ecology Group is already on the case – those pesky possums and sneaky stoats should be very, very afraid.