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Travel Guide

Coromandel attractions, things to do, places to go

  • 2 minutes

North Island, New Zealand

As a bird flies Coromandel is a glimmer across the Firth of Thames. The outline of hills, coast and bush is in contrast to the urban vibe of Auckland. The Coromandel is Auckland’s escape valve where baches and white sandy beaches offer rustic, quiet retreats.

Getting to Coromandel

Coromandel is approximately 2 hours driving from Auckland or Rotorua.

The area can be reached by ferry (into the town of Coromandel), road or small regional air shuttle services. There is a daily bus service to Coromandel.

Getting around Coromandel

The regional public road transport service is not frequent.

Consider water taxis to access beaches and bike hire companies to explore the region.

What to see and do in Coromandel

What to see and do ranges from chilling out on a beach or a luxurious lodge where pampering is the order of the day. The classic kiwi summer holiday spirit includes fishing, diving, hiking and cycling. Adrenaline adventure beckons with skydiving in Whitiangi or sea kayaking around the coast.

Walks in undisturbed forests are cool shady spots in summer. For heritage fans a walking trail should include exploring the relics of gold and coal mining in the Karangahake Gorge. For inspiration want to find Visit Karanganhake Gorge & Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park: Best Bits.

Karangahake Gorge Bridge and Rocky Outcrop, New Zealand
Karangahake Gorge Bridge
Cathedral Cove incoming tide sunset, Hahei, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove

Walks and hiking in the Coromandel

The terrain is not mountainous yet offers spectacular views and dips down into quiet valleys with waterfalls or shaded golden beaches. Check out 10 short easy Coromandel walks, trip guide, things to see: Best Bits.

One of the popular activities is a short beach walk with a spade in hand to dig your own impromptu spa at Hot Water Beach. Then explore nearby marine reserve and Cathedral Cove, an instagram star.

Artists and craftspeople have long called the Coromandel home. With its balmy climate, nearby Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton for an urban fix it is a beacon for creative souls. There is an established festival season where studios are open to the public drawing visitors from near and far to find new and emerging artists, Coromandel art weekend trip guide, activities, what to do: Best Bits.

Street art supporting local business, Coromandel, New Zealand
Street art supporting local business
@Waihi Arts Centre & Museum
@Waihi Arts Centre & Museum

Towns and places in the Coromandel

Go to small towns and find the soul of the Coromandel in 10 things to do in Paeroa & Waihi, travel guide, activities: Best Bits. Waihi and Paeroa are fascinating with detours into gold mining history with the only active gold mine in the country. One of a kind shops reflect the vibrant cultural scene with a perfect art gallery in Waihi to potter. There are seaside communities such as Hahei with its beach cafes, estuary and sheltered white sand beach, a favoured holiday destination. Coromandel town has a decided cultural vibe with the fun, quirky rail tour circumnavigating a spectacular pottery creation the bush, galleries, Victorian architecture and seafood cafes. Whitiangi is an experienced hand at welcoming visitors with a scallop festival, markets and plenty to keep visitors occupied. Check out Whitianga travel guide, what to do & see, free attractions: Best Bits.

Thames is a heritage stop for visitors interested in the impact of gold mining, get to tour an authentic gold mine and hear the roar, the hiss and power of a restored nineteenth century stamper. Check out TOP-10 things to do around Thames, trip guide, what to see: Best Bits and explore Thames coastal walkway or the School of Mines where New Zealand’s mining legacy was formed.

Thames School of Mines, New Zealand
Thames School of Mines


The Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Coromandel Peninsula slogan ‘Good for the soul’ is apt. The archetypal escape with solitary places where the only footsteps are yours, places where artists flourish and places where forests and bush wrap around exquisite gold sandy beaches. Scenic drives, summer holiday joy and the chance to wind down and rejuvenate.

Between December to mid-April however year round there is plenty to do and see.


In spring the bright red pohutukawa trees are in bloom creating a memorable drive from Thames to Coromandel Town as well as throughout the peninsula.

The glorious memorable moments are free, from beaches to easy lazy days walking bush tracks. Of course you can always splurge on beautiful artwork or an exciting dive adventure in the Aldermen Islands. For families consider a Whitianga cruise around the bays to Cathedral Cove and Hahei beach.

From Thames to Coromandel Town to Whitianga. Pick your holiday hub based on your specific interests and use the holiday destination as a hub to swing around the area in an arc or circle. The maximum distance from any one point is likely to be less than an hour.

Check out our article on Top 6 favourite beaches in the Coromandel. From your hub popular day trips include:

Summer Landscape with Blue Sky on the Pacific Sea Coast, Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand
Summer Landscape with Blue Sky on the Pacific Sea Coast, Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula
  • Coromandel Town with its heritage Victorian streetscape and Driving Creek pottery and artists workshops. This is an easy day trip from Whitianga or Kuaotunu.
  • Karangahake Gorge is an easy day trip from Thames or Whangamata where visitors explore the gold mining past with a trip to Waihi Gold Centre and beyond into the hills on gold mining trails.
  • Route 360 (State Highway 360) a narrow winding gravel road with spectacular views, a waterfall, kauri tree grove and Waterworks attraction. This is a great day trip linking Coromandel Town with Whitianga.
  • Snorkelling and diving the Aldermen Islands. This is ideal for visitors based in Tairua or Thames.
  • Sailing or cruising past Cathedral Cove, Hot Water beach and Hahei beaches. For your bucket list Whitiangi, Hahei or Hot Water beach are ideal as you are on the spot.

With such pretty beaches, you may think that the only time to visit here is in New Zealand’s summer, which lasts from about December until March. True, if you want to swim, then you’ll need to be here in summer. However, the Coromandel Peninsula is extremely popular with local families who fill the beaches and campsites from Christmas through January. February is better, though availability can still be tight so ensure to book early.

For the most peaceful time on the peninsula, go during the cooler months between March and November. You’ll experience fewer crowds and less competition for that perfect snapshot at Cathedral Cove. The peninsula stays fairly warm year-round, remaining well above freezing in the coldest months of July and August.

Mercury Bay at Whitianga on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula.
Mercury Bay at Whitianga on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula

The east coast of the peninsula is where the beautiful white sand beaches are located with their calm sheltered coves. It is very popular in the summer school holidays so forward bookings are essential.

In the southeastern corner of the peninsula is Whangamata, a summer holiday town with large camping grounds, locals on holiday wading and kayaking in the shallow clear water.

The visitor favourite is Whitianga which sees an enormous growth in summer holiday makers creating a bubble in the town’s population from a winter population of 6,160 to quadrupling in summer to approximately 25,000. The town does not feel overcrowded due to the wide paving and town planning which caters for summer crowds. Whitianga is a boating haven with no dangerous bar for boaties to cross. Trailer boats can be launched from several public boat ramps equipped with pontoons. There is a substantial marina with berths.

The majority of attractions and sights need a car to access them. There are private shuttle services catering for the budget end of the market which run on limited timetables meaning there is not a great deal of flexibility around departure points. It is a large peninsula with scattered small charming towns to explore. Having your own vehicle gives you lots of options and is recommended.

For visitors who have access to an E-bike or feel comfortable biking on narrow winding roads this is another option. In places where there is the network of shared walking / cycling trails then bike hire is another transport choice.

Auckland is approximately 2 ½ hours to Coromandel’s east coast.

Rotorua is 3 ½ hours to the east coast.

Matamata (Hobbiton) is 2 ½ hours to the east coast.

Only in summer and lifeguards are also volunteers involved in search and rescue as well.

For further information check Coastline and White Sandy Beaches in The Coromandel.

Coromandel Town is a specific place, the Coromandel is a peninsula formally known as The Coromandel Peninsula.

No, it is a passenger ferry only.

Let’s get you there and around the place now. Check Coromandel road trips, getting there and round about.


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