Whitiangi travel guide
Whitiangi travel guide

Whitianga travel, what to see and do — guide & itinerary

Why go to Whitianga?

The road trip is winding and takes about 3 hours from Auckland.

Whitianga is more than a beach, it’s an urban vibe nestled in a rural landscape of sea, sand and surf. Child friendly with plenty of space for all ages to simply let go. It is one of my favourite places any time of the year. This is because of galleries, cafes, wide open spaces and a sense of country meets urban gloss.

Whitianga is having your cake and eating it too.

TIP: The road trip from Auckland is windy, narrow and seems to take ages. You will arrive eventually. The journey is worth it.

Cathedral Cove, near Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand

Best time to visit

December to April. Whitianga is a summer destination. Off season you would enjoy the solitude of a vibrant rural seaside town. Water temperature will be chilly in winter, and art galleries and attractions are often open for limited hours.

Whitianga Sea Temperature, check if warm enough for a dip. If not, enjoy a walk on a picturesque beach instead. In winter it is likely that kayaking and water cruises are either closed or running occasional services.


Whitianga is an Auckland getaway gem.

  • an artist enclave with galleries and exhibitions
  • cafes and restaurants for the urban weekender
  • beaches for lazy afternoons, snorkeling adventures, kayaking and water skiing
  • big game fishing or throwing a line from the wharf
  • walks along coastal headlands with quintessential New Zealand scenery around every corner
  • Bicycle for your cycling adventure Business Listings | Bicycle Hire

Getting there

Auckland to Whitianga 3 hours or 195km. The final portion of your journey is NZ narrow, winding rural roads. You could start wondering if the journey is worth the hassle of the three hour trip. The final fifteen minutes opens into the open countryside and views of the ocean. Whitianga is worth the road trip.

TIP: While there is an excellent bus service between Whitianga and major centres it is recommended your weekend away is a road trip. A vehicle gives you the flexibility to check out various beaches and sights not within Whitianga town district. 

What to see and do in Whitianga

Explore the coastline

Is a tourist hot spot with overcrowding, especially in the peak season at low tide. While I enjoyed the sensation of welling geothermal water seeping into my sandy pool I found the experience lost its lustre with the dense crowds vying for place to dig their own hot water pool. Too many tourists  is an issue now facing Hot Water Beach. The enterprising local convenience store either rents and/or sells spades for visitors. Perhaps a visit to the Hot Water Beach gallery instead of the beach might be an option. Check out  Moko Artspace | New Zealand Art, Hot Water Beach, Coromandel worth a detour from hot water beach.

Are there beaches where it is not crowded?  Definitely.

Whitianga is awash with sandy coves, bays and inlets. There are numerous places to pick and choose. The problem is choosing which beach works for your family, paddling in shallow waters or plunging into a surf beach. Check out Whitianga website for up to date information.

Water activities

Experience big game fishing or a leisurely boat trip exploring the coast.

My boat trip enabled me to check out the various beaches. Captain Joe’s lively commentary kept me entertained during my three hour afternoon cruise. Tales of misdeeds, adventures and local history were woven between descriptions of beaches, bays and inlets. Whitianga has embraced the tourists and I felt very welcome.


Mercury Bay Art Escape weekend… all things artistic.

Bring your wallet to the open studios exhibition. An annual event late summer, first two weekends of March every year. Bookings for accommodation are essential.

And the annual scallop festive is a siren call for seafood lovers. Scallop Festival Whitianga 2021 | A weekend long celebration of Coromandel seafood and cuisine.

A weekend of pop up markets, costumed locals, children’s magical shows, guest chefs, music and scallops and more scallops. Bookings are essential. Check out the website for details.

Culture & Heritage

Mercury Bay Museum is located adjacent to the Whitianga marina.

Mercury Bay Museum is child friendly with interactive exhibits. Pre-European Maori occupation to the present is detailed. The museum is embedded in a closed dairy factory. Recycling a building is a great idea as it provides context for Whitianga’s heritage of forest milling and dairy industry activity. The museum is located next to a well known ice cream shop with a playground opposite for children to vent their energy. Of course, you must try an ice cream. You are at the beach after all.


Wander through Whitianga main street. You will enjoy souvenir gift shopping or browsing in the local art galleries before indulging in a morning coffee at the numerous cafes dotted along the main street.

If you have forgotten your beach wrap the town specialises in beach wear.

Food & feast

The breakfast at the local cafe was a poster for tourism Whitianga style.

Fried sausage, tomatoes and poached egg on a muffin or a slightly healthier option of lightly sauteed mushrooms with crisp garlic infused toast. The local ‘i’ Site has a detailed listing of restaurants, bars and cafes. You are spoilt for choice.

Walks & cycling trails

You could embark on a vigorous tramp along the coast or take your time strolling from one coastal community / beach to another. If the weather is not great, simply layer clothing.

TIP: Remember to carry a water bottle and sunscreen.

Whitianga area: Places to go in the Coromandel.

Bicycle hire makes it easy to explore the coast cycling.

Business Listings | Bicycle Hire.


Accommodation ranges from backpacker budget to luxury pampering. Whitianga is a hot tourist destination in summer with its population swelling to 20,000 visitors daily. The Coromandel Peninsula experiences up to 500,000 visitors. Whitianga’s permanent population is around 5,000 inhabitants. Booking is essential for the peak tourist season between December to March.

Travel Pack Information

The journey is worth it.

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