Te Kouma's Sugarloaf boat ramp is reviewed...
With all-tide access, Te Kouma’s Sugarloaf ramp is a great starting point from which to explore the western Coromandel coast.
Located 9km from Coromandel Town along the southern side of Coromandel Harbour, the ramp is sheltered from most weather conditions except a strong northerly. Coromandel Town has plenty of accommodation options for varying budgets, and fuel, ice, bait, tackle, hot food and tap beer are not hard to find!
While there are many small boat launching options along the Thames-Coromandel coast, Te Kouma offers the best launching in the area. Nearby options such as Jacks Point are not feasible at the lower end of the tide cycle and four-wheel-drives are recommended for beach launching at places like Oamaru Bay or Long Bay.
A ramp pass is required to use the Sugarloaf boat ramp, with day and annual passes available for either ‘Launch Only’ or ‘Launch and Park’ options. Passes can be purchased online via the QR Code on the on-site signs, or at a range of local gas stations.
The public-only boat ramp is found at the far northern end of the facility, and there is a shared-use ramp immediately to the south. Be mindful that the shared-use ramp is regularly used for commercial barge landings. The reasonably wide concrete ramps can be used over the full tide cycle, and there is designated trailer parking. Although there is only marked parking for around 15 vehicles with boat trailers, many fishers park along Te Kouma Rd nearby on busier days. Parking is not allowed on the tarmac area next to the commercial wharf.
The ramp can get very busy during peak times, particularly when these coincide with commercial activity at the adjacent Sugarloaf Wharf. The wharf is a docking area for the mussel farming industry, and when I was last there it was a hive of activity. The busy nature of the wharf is no doubt valuable from a security point of view, and there are also security cameras present.
The ramp has no adjoining pontoons making solo launching challenging, but given the generally calm conditions, more social boaties simply get a crew member to hold their boat in the water beside the ramp. Tying up to Sugarloaf Wharf is ill-advised due to the busy commercial activity and the unforgiving nature of the concrete block wharf. There are public toilets and rubbish bins on-site.
So how about the fishing and boating you ask? Well, you don’t have to go far from the ramp to access a myriad of bays, islands, mussel farms, reefs, headlands and estuaries. The area is famous for its mussel farm fishing – especially if you can find a barge in the process of harvesting. Just make sure not to tie up to the same rope as you could find yourself in some strife! Snapper, kingfish and trevally are prime targets around the farms, and workup action is often not far offshore during spring. Funnily enough, a good spot to start searching is Motutakupu (Gannet Island)!
Livebaits are generally easy to source, either around the farms or under bird activity in the harbours, and the area has a reputation for its kingfish that patrol the coastline. The sheltered weedbeds also host good numbers of squid, and I’ve enjoyed some good inky sessions around the neighbouring islands. The western Coromandel isn’t renowned for diving due to the green waters flowing from the Firth of Thames, and with scallops currently off the menu, the primary possibility is probably hunting around for a few crays to the north.
Given the protected nature of the immediate coast here, Te Kouma’s Sugarloaf ramp is a perfect starting point for any-sized trailer boat.
November 2022 - Nick Jones
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
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