Covid-19 - yes it will end, so start planning your New Zealand self drive adventure now

During March 2020 the New Zealand Government introduced strict laws affecting travel to, from, and within New Zealand. And whilst it's not practical to travel here now, the good news is that these restrictions will not last forever.

So don't get caught in the rush. We encourage you to start planning now for your dream New Zealand holiday.

Our website has loads of great information to help you plan your New Zealand self drive holiday.

And of course if you have any questions, just ask us. Happy holiday planning

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The stunning Coromandel coast is located on the western edge of the Hauraki Gulf. It is a narrow stretch of coastland, pohutukawa-lined coves, white sand beaches and lush rainforested hills.



New Zealand's Coromandel Coast is a true little piece of paradise!

Located around two to two and a half hours drive from Auckland , the Coromandel Coast is a sub-tropical wonder, and one of the North Island's treasures.

Promoted as being "good for your soul", we can heartily endorse this after our last visit.

It's difficult to imagine a more idyllic place to just sit back, relax, and admire mother nature.

Breathtaking scenery, an almost endless variety of things to do and places to visit, and an overwhelming sense of calm.

That's our heartfelt take on the Coromandel coast.

New Chum Beach, named one of the World's finest beaches. Image courtesy thecoromandel.com

Thames is the largest town in the region, and has many historic buildings and several museums.

Other towns in the region include Coromandel, Whangamata, Paeroa, Waihi and Whitianga.

Perhaps most famous for Cathedral Cove, New Chum beach and Hot Water beach, it's a region of natural beauty, where outdoor activities abound, surrounded by some of the most picturesque scenery you could imagine.

Perfect settings for sun drenched holidays and water based experiences.

Seafood is a speciality of the region where oysters, mussels, scallops and other foods are grown and harvested sustainably offshore.

Locals are famous for a relaxed and welcoming style. Inspired by the natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle, the region's resident artists help fuel the area's quirky, creative vibe.

Outdoor adventures include scuba diving, sea kayaking and fishing, short and long forest treks.



Also on this page

There's lots of information about the Coromandel coast on this page.

So to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for, just click on the links below:

* Getting here

* Nature and wildlife

* The great outdoors - our top tips

* Seasonal highlights

* Lots more things to see and do

* Some interesting facts

* A range of free pdf guides to download

* Coromandel accommodation links

* A little local history

* Maps



Getting to the Coromandel coast

By car

The Coromandel peninsula is located East of Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, and home to New Zealand's main international airport.

From Auckland, it's around one and a half hours drive to Thames, via State Highway 1 and State Highway  2.

From Auckland to Whitianga is around two and a half hours drive via State Highway 1 and State Highway 25.

Please refer to our State Highways map.

View from the lookout between Coromandel and Whitianga

The Peninsula is like a large finger of land, surrounded on three sides by water, and split along its length by the Coromandel mountain range.

If you drive in from the Western side to Thames, we recommend then driving North along State Highway 25 and following the bay (known as the Firth of Thames) to historic Coromandel town. Although it's only 53 kilometers, the road hugs the coastline all the way, so the journey takes around one hour. The road is a little narrow, so take your time. There are lots of little villages along the way and plenty of spots to pull off the road and take pictures.

From Coromandel, head East over the mountain to Whitianga (on the Peninsula's East Coast). The road snakes its way up the mountain to a lookout with beautiful views, before descending towards Whitianga. The trip is around 35 kilometers and takes around 45 minutes.

From Whitianga, you can then head South and explore the East Coast villages, like Pauanui, and Whangamata.

Make sure that you have your phone or camera charged, because the Coromandel coast is certainly a photographer's paradise.

Looking across Mercury Bay from Whitianga

Why not take the ferry?

There's also a wonderful 2 hour ferry ride from Auckland to Hannaford's Wharf, Coromandel, which takes you through the beautiful Hauraki Gulf.

It's an unforgettable scenic ride through one of the North Island's most gorgeous harbors and is well worth the trip.

You can check it out by clicking here.

Or check out this great day tour from Auckland

For those wanting to base themselves in Auckland, we have a great day trip to the Coromandel region.

Ride a train through native Kauri forest, dig a pool in the warm sands of Hot Water Beach, and visit the iconic Cathedral Cove.

This 12 hour adventure takes you to the very best of the Coromandel.

You can see what others thought of this highly rated tour by clicking on the "Read Reviews" button.




Come and immerse yourself in the great outdoors -  Coromandel Coast style!

If you are into scenic walks, this is the place for you. There are dozens of walking tracks that meander through the valleys and hills of the Coromandels, showing traces of the region's gold mining and kauri logging past.

And along the extensive 400 kilometres of coastline, choose from a never ending array of unspoilt beaches.

Here are a few highly recommended Coromandel Coast activities:

Cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail

Stretching over a leisurely 173 kilometres, the Hauraki Rail Trail is one of the country's easier Great Rides, and is suitable for the whole family.

The trail comprises 5 sections, which allow for easy day rides.

Access points are many and include Paeroa, Thames, Waihi and Waikino.

The Hauraki Rail Trail courtesy thecoromandel.com

There's lots to see and do along the length of the trail with numerous accommodation and dining options available. Bikes can be hired or you can choose a guided tour, whatever suits.

More information can be found on the official web site here.




Visit Karangahake Gorge

Kiwi's tell each other that this is one of the places that they must visit, so you know its good.

Take your time to explore historic tunnels and walkways, the dramatic gorge itself, or the rambling Hauraki Rail Trail.

Karangahake Gorge - pic courtesy the coromandel.com

Getting here

Access to Karangahake Gorge is from State Highway 2, between Waihi and Paeroa.

It's around two 2 hours drive from Auckland, and you can park just  off the highway at Karangahake.

The car park has toilets, bins, and some basic information about the gorge.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) have lots of helpful information on their website which you can access here.




The Pinnacles

The 'Pinnacles' overnight walkway through the Kauaeranga valley was originally constructed for horses carrying supplies to kauri loggers, gum diggers and gold miners in the early 1900s.

Climb The Pinnacles - pic courtesy thecoromandel.com

 Walkers stay in a DOC hut where an early morning rise reveals the sun's first rays on the Pacific Ocean and 360-degree panoramic views. Allow about 8 hours walk time.

More information can be found and bookings made, on the Department of Conservation (DOC) website here.




Dig a bath and relax at Hot Water Beach

At Hot Water beach, where underground thermal activity supplies bubbling hot water, you can create a personal natural jacuzzi in the wet sand during low tide.

The popular Hot Water Beach, Coromandel New Zealand, picture courtesy Tourism Coromandel

For two hours either side of low tide nature provides the perfect conditions for you to experience this world famous phenomenon.

And what a great way to meet new friends!

And just like nearby Cathedral Cove, this iconic kiwi attraction is a "must do" on your New Zealand bucket list.

Parking is available at the Main Beach car park and you can hire a spade at several local cafes.





New Chum Beach - one of the world's best

Although isolated, the walk to New Chum is well worth the effort.

Rated as one of the best beaches in the world, it's a true hidden gem, and certainly one of the "stars" on the Coromandel Coast.

White sands surrounded by native forests, and a lack of development make this one very special beach.

Stunning New Chum Beach in the Coromandels - pic courtesy thecoromandel.com

Getting There

New Chum is accessed from the car park at the Northern end of Whangapoua beach. From there, if the tide allows, make your way across the stream and rocks, then follow the path over the rise into the palm grove.




Majestic Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove's iconic limestone archway and pristine golden beach featured in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

The cove is an idyllic location for swimming, snorkelling, picnics and relaxing under pohutukawa trees.

Snorkeling at Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel New Zealand, picture courtesy Tourism Coromandel

Getting there

Catherdral Cove is only accessible on foot, or by boat or kayak.

The easy walk takes around two hours return.

Situated at Hahei, it's only about a ten minute drive from the equally popular Hot Water Beach.

The trail begins at the top of Grange Road Hahei.  You should park on Pa Road in the dedicated visitor car parking area (in the warmer summer period there's a shuttle service to take you from the car park to the start of the track).

When the shuttle is not running, the walk from the car park to the start of the track takes about an extra twenty minutes.

Stunning Cathedral Cove

There are several boat tours operating from Whitianga wharf to Cathedral Cove. Some of these also allow you to stop and have a snorkle, but be aware that they do not allow you to disembark from the boat at Cathedral Cove.

There is a Cathedral Cove water taxi which operates from the beach at Hahei, and can drop off/pick up from the beach at Cathedral Cove. But the taxi is very much influenced by the sea conditions, so does not operate some days.

Sea Cave near Cathedral Cove

We did the Ocean Leopard tour from Whitianga, and it was fantastic! We stopped along the way at lots of spots for photos, including the stunning Cathedral Cove. I'll never forget seeing it for the first time as we rounded the headland. This is one place that pictures cannot adequately portray. The huge archway, pristine sand, and clear water combine to make this one of the most beautiful places that we've seen.

On our tour we also cruised into a huge sea cave, where the water was crystal clear, and we stopped on the return journey for a snorkle, where we were surrounded by a huge school of snapper.

The skipper (Tas) was funny and informative and if you are visiting the Coromandel coast we can highly recommend the tour.

You can check out this amazing tour here




Wonderful views from The Coromandel Coastal Walkway

At the Northern end of the penisula, the Coromandel Coastal Walkway is a favorite with walkers from around the world.

Take your time and explore the bays, beaches and headlands that are frequent features of this beautiful walk.

The walkway runs for ten kilometers between Stony Bay and Fletcher Bay, and takes around 7 hours return.

The Coromandel Coastal Walkway - pic courtesy thecoromandel.com

Getting there

Follow Colville Road from Coromandel Town north to Colville Bay (around 31 kilometers), before taking Port Jackson Road for another 30 kilometres until reaching Fletcher Bay. As an alternative take the Port Charles Road for around twenty kilometers which will take you to Stony Bay.




Here's a few more Coromandel coast favorites of ours

Cathedral Cove Ultimate Boat Tour


Cathedral Cove Glass Bottom Boat Cruise


The Lost Spring Geo-Thermal Pools & Spa


Coromandel Half Day Fishing Trip




Coromandel Coast - Heritage

Ancient Maori village sites along the region's coast are evidence of New Zealand's earliest Polynesian settlement.

Cornish pumphouse at Waihi in the Coromandel New Zealand - pic courtesy Tourism Coromandel

The British explorer Captain Cook visited the region in 1769 to observe the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the sun.

His mission is commemorated in the names of local beaches such as Mercury Bay and Cook's beach.

Lured by Cook's descriptions of the towering kauri trees, early European settlers came to mill the forests.

Gold was discovered in the area in the late 1800s, New Zealand's first recorded gold discovery and gold rush.

The goldfields produced 16 million tonnes of gold ore between 1862 and 1952.

Life was pretty tough for the early settlers and although they lived in a beautiful location, relics such as the Cornish Pumphouse in Waihi give an insight of what it was like in those early days.

It's well worth taking some time to wander around there.



Coromandel Coast - Nature and Wildlife

Various species of unique New Zealand wildlife inhabit the region's coastland and rainforests. And in fact, several conservation projects for kauri, kiwi and other birds originated in the region, where 34 percent of the land is under Department of Conservation (DOC) protection.

Biking at Owharoa Falls, in the Karangahake Gorge, Coromandel New Zealand, picture courtesy Tourism Coromandel

Tangiaro Kiwi Retreat is nestled in the heart of the Moehau kiwi sanctuary - one of New Zealand's first kiwi sanctuaries. Visitors can sit on the deck of a luxurious bush hut at night and listen to kiwi call.

Te Whanganui a Hei marine reserve is a community-led project off the Hahei coastline and iconic Cathedral Cove. This area has been a no-take zone for 20 years and marine life is thriving. Glass bottom boats reveal many types of marine life including fish, seals, crayfish (lobster), stingrays, blue penguins, dolphins and orca.

There are various companies that operate tours and kayak hire - you can see details at the link above.



Coromandel Coast - Seasonal Highlights

The sunny climate makes the region a year-round holiday destination for visitors.

The pretty Whangamata Harbour, in the Coromandel New Zealand, picture courtesy Tourism Coromandel

In summer, Kiwis flock to the region to stay in baches (holiday homes) and camping grounds but throughout the year there are also regular events and festivals that offer visitors a chance to indulge in the local way of life and environment.

The Coromandel Pohutukawa Festival is a celebration of New Zealand's native 'Christmas' tree and its symbolic ties to New Zealand beach culture.

Held in late spring to coincide with the trees' flowering, the region-wide month-long festival hosts art exhibitions, café crawls, dive events and open-air concerts.

In winter, the region celebrates the scallop harvest at the Whitianga Scallop Festival. This large outdoor food festival combines local food, wine, entertainment and family activities.

If you have a taste for fine seafood this event is highly recommended.



And There Is Lots More To Do On The Coromandel Coast

Here are a few of the many things to do in the region:

* Visit the Driving Creek Railway and potteries. The train journey takes you through native rainforest and offers stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf.

* Take a trip to the secluded New Chum beach, voted one of the world's top 10 beaches!

The Coromandel New Zealand - Viewing snapper in a glass bottom boat - picture courtesy Tourism Coromandel

* The beautiful Cathedral Cove area is a water lovers paradise. Take a scenic boat tour, or immerse yourself in the clear waters with a kayaking, snorkelling or diving adventure.

* For a bird's eye view of the region, why not take a scenic helicopter flight?

* See the underwater delights with a glass bottom boat tour of the Te Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve.

* If fishing is your thing, guided ocean and fly fishing trips are available. Here's one to check out.

* For the ultimate view of the region, take a tandem skydive.

* How about a trip to local art and craft galleries? The region is home to thousands of artists .

* Visit the Rapaura Watergardens, around twenty minutes north of Thames. Stroll around the sixty acre gardens which include meandering streams, lilly ponds, a cascading waterfall and local art. There's also an on-site cafe and gift shop.

* Relax after a hard day at Whitianga's The Lost Resort. Soak away your cares in their thermal pools.

* Several local museums feature displays detailing the rich history of the region.

* Fancy a game of golf? There are numerous courses including the championship Lakes Resort course.

Enjoy!


Some Interesting Things About The Region

* Thames (current pop: 7000) - gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula - was once New Zealand's biggest town, boasted more than 100 pubs, and was proposed as the country's capital city.

* Thames colonial architecture goes back to its gold mining heritage.

* Coromandel's name has an Indian origin. HMS Coromandel - the first European ship to bring settlers to the region - was named after India's 'Coromandel Coast'.

* Foodies consumed more than 100,000 scallops in one day at the 2008 Whitianga Scallop Festival.



Accommodation

Use our search box, or just follow the links to view a wide range of Coromandel accommodation.

For accommodation in Thames click here.

For accommodation in Whitianga click here.

For accommodation in Coromandel town click here.

For accommodation in Whangamata click here.

Booking.com



Our recommendation

On our last visit to the Coromandel coast we stayed at Whitianga for a few days.

When time allows we choose self contained apartments, as they allow more room to stretch out, have full kitchens and laundry facilities.

And of course location, price,and views are always important to us.

So, we had three nights at the Crow's Nest apartments in Whitianga.

The view from Crow's Nest apartments Whitianga

Located a stone's throw from the waterfront, and a three minute walk from Whitianga's shops, the Crow's Nest proved to be a perfect location.

We went with some friends so we chose a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment, which also featured a decent size covered balcony, where we relaxed for meals, taking in the views of the bay. The apartments also have undercover car parking.

There is also a large roof top terrace (the "Crow's Nest") with tables and chairs, which has even better views of the bay.

We can highly recommend Crow's Nest Whitianga. If you would like to learn more, read reviews, or make a booking, you can do that by clicking here.

Tip - if you like fish and chips, try the Buffalo Beach Takeaway, which is located around the corner from Crow's Nest. The Snapper and chips are to die for! And if you are still hungry, try the fried scallops. Yum!!

Views from the roof top terrace at Crow's Nest Whitianga





Free PDF Guides

Download our free PDF Guides courtesy Destination Coromandel

Coromandel Intro

Adventure

Eco & Wellness

Family

Luxury

Weddings




Maps

Coromandel map

Detailed map download

Click here for a map of the region. Please wait while it loads




Visit the Tourism New Zealand website for more information on the Coromandel Coast.




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