Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Coromandel Peninsula lies in the North Island of New Zealand. It extends 85 kilometres north from the western end of the Bay of Plenty, forming a natural barrier to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames in the west from the Pacific Ocean to the east.
The country's biggest city, Auckland, lies on the far shore of the Hauraki Gulf, 55 kilometres to the west. The peninsula is just visible from the city in fine weather.
The peninsula is steep and hilly, and is largely covered in subtropical rain forest.
The Coromandel Range forms a spine for the peninsula rising to nearly 900 metres, and the large island of Great Barrier, which lies beyond the northern tip of the peninsula, can be thought of as an extension of the range. Great Barrier is separated from Cape Colville on the peninsula's northern coast by the Colville Channel.
Numerous small islands and island groups lie offshore, such as the Motukawao Islands to the northwest, the Alderman Islands and Slipper Island to the southeast, and the Mercury Islands to the northeast.
Owing to the nature of the land, much of the Coromandel is relatively isolated, especially considering its proximity to the cities of Auckland and Tauranga.
Only five towns on the peninsula have populations of over 1000 (Coromandel, Whitianga, Thames, Tairua, and Whangamata) and of these only Thames has a population of over 5000. Several small towns dot the coast of the Firth of Thames in the southwest. Other small towns on the peninsula include Hikuai, Pauanui and Colville.
The peninsula is a popular place to live for those who have chosen alternative lifestyles, especially for those who have chosen not to live in Auckland.
Industries and attractions
The area was formerly known largely for its mining and kauri industries, but is now a mecca for tourism, especially ecotourism. A forest park occupies much of the centre of the peninsula, and the coasts are dotted with fine beaches and stunning views.
Evidence of the regions geothermal origins can be found in hot springs, notably at Hot Water Beach on the peninsula's east coast. The town of Whangamata is a popular holiday retreat, and Whitianga on Mercury Bay is renowned for its yachting. The peninsula's waters are also a popular destination for scuba divers.
The towns are connected by State Highways 25 and 25A which form a circuit around the peninsula. At the base of the peninsula, the towns of Paeroa and Waihi are connected by means of a road through the Karangahake Gorge which separates the Coromandel Range from the Kaimai Ranges.
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