Whangamata is my favourite beach resort, mainly because during the summer months it combines reliable weather with good swimming and there are enough shops and other attractions to hold the interest of visitors and holidaymakers.
The Māori name ‘Whangamatā’ comes from the words ‘whanga’, which means bay, and ‘matā’, that means a hard stone, referring to the obsidian (or volcanic glass) that regularly washes up on the beach.
The town lies between two rivers, the Wentworth to the north and the smaller Otahu to the south, while at the northern end of the town is a marina based in the Wentworth estuary. This opened in 2009 after considerable local controversy and subsequent legal action.
Jan Bartley, one of the two Councillors for the ward covering Whangamata for the Thames Coromandel District Council, believes that any previous concerns about the marina have “vanished”. For example, he says there were worries with regard to local birds such as the oyster catchers. “Now there are more oyster catchers around than there ever were before. You can see them every day perching on the breakwater.” It also seems that changes in the tides which the breakwater was supposed to induce haven’t occurred.
The marina now provides moorings for up to two hundred yachts and pleasure craft and the area around the wharf at the head of the main street has been developed into a lovely place for young children to paddle and splash without waves.