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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




The Coromandel region is easily located by its backbone, the Coromandel Range, which projects out as a peninsula between the Hauraki Gulf and the Pacific Ocean. The region is some 70 miles long and 20 miles wide at its widest point. The northern extremity of the Tauranga Harbour roughly coincides with the region's southern limits, whilst the Hauraki Plains lie along the eastern boundary. Included within these limits are the counties Coromandel, Thames, and Ohinemuri, which together with their boroughs form the basic units for the collection of statistics. In 1961 the region registered a total population of 21,565 (0.89 per cent of the national total), 9.20 per cent of which were classified as Maoris.

Despite its relatively small size the peninsula is very rugged. The backbone range, composed largely of volcanic rocks, rises to altitudes of 2,926 ft at Moehau near Cape Colville, 2,740 ft at Kaitarakahi, east of Thames, and reaches its highest point of 3,126 ft in Mt. Te Aroha. Vigorous stream erosion has closely dissected the upland area so that areas of low or flat relief are restricted to a multitude of small alluvial fans and bay-head flood plains fringed with tidal mud flats. The most extensive area of low relief lies along the upper course of the Ohinemuri River, generally termed the Waihi Plain. The major settlements, Thames and Waihi, are on the periphery of the region. Over most of the peninsula small villages supply the needs of the farming population and cater for the tourist traffic. Of these, Coromandel with 713 (1961) and Whitianga with 610 (1961) inhabitants are the largest. Farming provides the region's main source of income; 38.33 per cent of the labour force is engaged in primary production. Much of the central part is unused for agriculture and on the hill country the production of store sheep and cattle prevails. Dairy farming is concentrated around Coromandel, Mercury Bay, the lower course of the Tairua, and the valley of the Ohinemuri, and principally on the fringes of the Hauraki Plains.


Samuel Harvey Franklin, B.COM.GEOG., M.A.(BIRMINGHAM), Senior Lecturer, Geography Department, Victoria University of Wellington.