New Chums Beach, in Wainuiototo Bay. © The Coromandel

New Chums Beach: a slice of heaven

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The east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula has more than its fair share of pretty beaches.

For generations, Kiwis built their baches there – little one-room, fibrolite or board-and-batten buildings with a thunderbolt out back, within spitting distance of the dunes and the gorgeous beach beyond.

The latest generation of bach builders has gone about it slightly differently. If fibrolite and board-and-batten are used, they tend these days to be an architect’s sardonic pun on the concept of the Kiwi bach. Most of the ‘holiday homes’ flung up lately in Pauanui or Matarangi, for example, tend to have more king-sized bedrooms than the traditional bach had bunks, and each with their own en-suite.

Stucco is the cladding of choice, and the sunset over the lovely, switchback skyline of the Coromandel Range is reflected in smoked glass windows and stainless steel balustrades. And private swimming pools are de rigueur, for those days when 100m is too far to walk, or the sea is just too salty, or something.

That has been the fate of the majority of the Coromandel beaches. Happily, though, there are still one or two that have escaped the developer’s dead eyes. Cathedral Cove is one example. New Chums Beach is another.

In fact, British newspaper, The Observer, ranked the latter as one of the 20 best deserted beaches in the world. New Chums Beach is in Wainuiototo Bay, handy to both Whitianga and Coromandel townships. To get there, you’ll need to drive to Whangapoua Beach and then hoof it. It’s about a 30-minute walk, which begins with a wade through the estuary at the northern end of Whangapoua Beach at low tide.

A track crosses a saddle over the southern headland and there you are, overlooking a classically-formed stretch of dazzling white sand, backed with bush that is in turn fringed with pōhutukawa and confronts the sparkling water of Mercury Bay. New Chums Beach.

Shellfish can be gathered here (and in the Whangapoua estuary on the way). What a spot for a picnic, a swim and a bit of basking in the sun. But get in quick. There are already plans afoot to subdivide the land behind New Chums Beach, and yet another slice of paradise will be lost to us. It’s now or never!

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