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Pacific Coast Highway road trip: Whitianga to Tauranga

Learn about the joy of a road trip through the stuff of summer holidays. The Coromandel Peninsula is a classic road trip, a bucket list for people wanting a drop of indulgence, a dash of culture  and time to relax and revive. The route is following the historic gold mining trails where prospectors toiled in hopes of a lucky strike. Next is a wander through the Bay of Plenty seaside towns with Kaimai Ranges as a backdrop. Relax on beaches where the footprints are only yours and find the perfect cafe for a leisurely brunch. Finally you reach your destination Tauranga, a major port city and well known summer holiday destination for kiwis.

Trip Overview

Where to go and what to see


  • Tairua, two tides where ocean meets estuary offers visitors a chance to explore the marine world of the Aldermen Islands
  • Whangamata’s beach vibe
  • Waihi gold mining town
  • Athenree Homestead
  • Katikati summer holiday destination

Duration: 2 - 3 days
Start Whitianga (or elsewhere on the Cormandel Peninsula)
Finish Tauranga

Whitianga to Tauranga west coast, North Island road trip can be picked up in Waihi with the delights of the Coromandel Peninsula in your bucket list.

Tairua estuary low tide, Coromandel, New Zealand
Tairua estuary low tide, Coromandel

The seaside community is a veteren hospitality spot with plenty for family and friends to explore. Highlights include:

  • Climb Mount Paku and survey the two tides, ocean, estuary and offshore islands. The two tides nomenclature is evident with the surging powerful surf of the ocean and the quiet edd and tide of the estuary where kids wharf bomb into placid tidal water
  • Tairua ocean beach is a surfing hotspot, challenging the elements, giving surfing a go.
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Whangamata in summer, with pohutukawa trees blooming on Port Road, Coromandel, New Zealand
Whangamata, Coromandel

A bustling holiday destination in summer is characterised by its laid-back beach vibe. With over 6km of white sandy beach, forests, lagoon and estuary and resort village vibe means Kiwi holidaymakers flock to the ocean beaches and saltwater estuaries of Whangamata in their thousands. Key highlights for the Pacific Coast road trip are:

  • Find your inner surfer with one of the best breaks, the world-class Whangamata Bar. The legendary left-hand break attracts surfers internationally
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Waihi Cornish pumphouse nearby Waihi gold open cast mine, Waikato, New Zealand
Waihi Cornish pumphouse nearby Waihi gold open cast mine, Waikato

A high point for heritage and history buffs will be the Martha Mine Pit Rim Walk. It is a flat easy walk where you peer into a working open pit mine. It is dramatic with its quarried drops into the depths where ant-like massive trucks haul out the spoils. Think about how the nineteenth miners simply sluiced away entire hillsides, valleys and landscapes to extract gold. The Waihi Mine conducts regular mining tours for visitors. Waihi is an excellent lunch stop with several cafes and restaurants.

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Bullswool Farm Park

Bullswool Farm Park is a tourist attraction that continues to receive good reviews. It is a combination of ethnographic museum, a number of rooms decorated in nineteenth century artefacts and models together with farm animals, cafe and an adjoining bush reserve full of birdsong. The Bush Discovery Walk and Gold and Kauri Bullswool Farm Heritage Park – An authentic Kiwi Experience, The tourist venture sits alongside a working farm that has been in the family for three generations.

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@Athenree Homestead
@Athenree Homestead

You are passing the Bay of Plenty summer holiday destination of Athenree, Waihi Beach and Katikati. These small seaside towns are favourite summer holiday destinations for generations of kiwis who escape to the beach every summer. Spend a few moments and check out what is happening.

Attractions include:

  • Athenree natural hot water springs
  • A hub for Hauraki Rail Track
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Katikati Primary School totem poles, street art, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Katikati Primary School totem poles, street art, Bay of Plenty

Outdoor art installations are a Katikati highlight. Wander through Haiku Park and discover all the haiku poems carved into the boulders and pavement scattered around the park. The Uretara Stream runs through the park. The main path leads over a footbridge, and downstream to the highway and Uretara Landing. From the landing, stroll up the main street to appreciate the murals and other works of art throughout the town centre.

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Tauranga Historic Village, Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, New Zealand
Tauranga Historic Village, Bay of Plenty


The Bay of Plenty is surrounded by water, from rivers, streams and the ocean. Wonderful beach communities are summer holiday magnets. Whether it be surfing at the iconic Mount Maunganui surf beach or a leisurely cruise to meet dolphins and wildlife the Bay of Plenty is where holiday memories are created. Check  TAURANGA TOP TEN BEST THINGS TO DO during your stay in Tauranga.

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