A hidden gem

Kuaotunu stretches along both sides of State Highway 25 for approximately 10 km, with stunning beaches on one side and farms, lifestyle blocks and native bush on the other.

Unlike many communities on the Coromandel Peninsula which have a low number of permanent residents, Kuaotunu has a high number of permanent residents and is very much a working community.

The social hub of our community is the Kuaotunu Village, located just off the state highway on Black Jack Road, in the lee of the Black Jack hill. 

Want to know more about Kuaotunu and its aspirations for the future?

Not sure how to pronounce the name Kuaotunu?

Don't worry, you're not alone...

Watch Sharon Holt explain the Maori origins of the name and how to pronounce it.

A fascinating history

Kuaotunu has been settled for a long time - evidence of the first Maori settlers is still highly visible today. While there are now fewer than a few hundred permanent residents, in the late 1890's the town's population swelled considerably when gold was found in the area.

Passionate about our environment...

Whether Kuaotunu is your permanent home or a place you like to escape to when possible, chances are that you appreciate not only the strong and warm-hearted community spirit that exists here, but also the beautiful environment that we are lucky enough to live in.

From our stands of regenerating native bush, the many stunning beaches that surround us, to our beautiful dark night skies - we do indeed live in paradise.

But as the many environmental groups that operate here can testify, our paradise is under threat from all sides, including introduced predators (both mammals and plants), an increase in artificial light, diseases such as kauri dieback disease, and more.

Terry Lysaght

Tell us about how long you've been here, Terry, and where else you have lived?
I've been here since the end of 1970, and spent a lot time in Hawaii too - been making boards to keep on surfing everywhere I go.

When I first got here, there were only about 30 people. Assumed there must be good surf here and there was; the reef here is very good, good as anything else in the world on its day but it's inconsistent. You have to know what you are doing! I don't go hunting for surf like I used to, rather have it laid on for me!

I love the isolation here, we are fortunate. We spent about a total of 20 years up in Hawaii, we have a whole other family and friends there. It was too hard living here and there, so we decided to move here permanently. One of the reasons is for sure the characters who live here - you can have friends of all different ages from Evie to a 90-year-old. We have farmers, photographers, fishermen, musicians...so diverse. Luke's is a great community centre where everyone bumps into each other over the ritual of a cup of coffee.

And how to do feel about change to the area, is there a fine balance?
Yes a fine balance, I mean I can paddleboard down the river to get my cup of coffee and I didn't use to be able to do that. You can still forage for food here - unlike in Hawaii.

It seems surfing has defined so much of who you are and your experiences - what do you think is a key element of that?
Well my first trip, back in the day, was on a ship for four weeks aged 18. It was to Jeffery Bay in South Africa and when I got there I was only one of six white people. It was a real adventure. On the day of my birthday, I had to wait the whole day for a call from my mum to connect as it literally was transferred around the world for me to finally receive it. Gone are those days! But I have many pictures and stories to share about my surfing missions. What I love about this place is all the young people and how I can keep connected with them. Keeps life interesting and I hope they seek out a sense of adventure like we did.