What to see and do in the Coromandel?
Chill out at Cathedral Cove or the sixteen other stunning beaches, explore quirky art trails or join in the festive fun at weekend markets. The classic kiwi summer holiday spirit includes fishing, diving, hiking and cycling.
ADVENTURES – COROMANDEL PENINSULA
A premier marine adventure specialist calls the Coromandel home. Crystal clear water, marine reserves and an outstanding reputation for advanced technical training and safety means DIVE ZONE is a must-go Whitianga destination for beginners as well as experienced divers.
Give diving a go and let the adventure begin underwater.
The best places to snorkel in the Coromandel are Hahei Marine Reserve with a check on local snorkel and scuba dive conditions from DIVE ZONE or Pauanui Information Centre. Visit Cathedral Cove Dive & Snorkel to hire snorkeling equipment.
Hahei is the nearest settlement and is a local favourite hang out for visitors intent on snorkelling and swimming. The marine reserve has a series of marker buoys making it easy to navigate yourself around.
Hahei, Coromandel is best known for beach tractors, launching boats from the sandy beach, hiring a kayak or snorkel, exploring the marine reserve – Whanganui-a-Hei – or nearby Cathedral Cove.
WALKS & HIKES – COROMANDEL PENINSULA
Explore historic logging trails and gold mining relics. Swim beneath a waterfall or to walk among the kauri trees, giants of the forest. Explore a historic cemetery in Thames and street art in Coromandel. Stop by a local favourite ice cream shop situated next to the Mercury Bay Museum. The best ten walks, in the Coromandel take you from the eastern to western sides of the Coromandel Peninsula. … Learn more 10 short easy Coromandel walks, trip guide, things to see: NZ Jane.
NATURE – COROMANDEL PENINSULA
Lush bush blankets the hills and valleys as visitors wind their way through the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s glorious. Look out for small roadside parking for trails to explore the Coromandel Forest Park.
COROMANDEL FOREST PARK HIGHLIGHTS
- Kauri, forest giants who survived 19thc logging are to be found on highway 309 (near Coromandel Town) and Manaia Sanctuary further south
- Kauaeranga Valley near Thames with its bush tram trails, gold mining relics and vintage train
- Tramping buffs enjoy limestone outcrops, the Pinnacles, with accommodation in a forest lodge
- Wentworth Falls (near Whangamata) is a glorious leap of water nestled in its forest setting
- Accessibility, the forest embraces the coast allowing visitors the best of two worlds, the beach, the marine world and the world of lush, luxurious green layered forest.
- Cathedral Cove limestone arches are unmissable and the treasure is located on the park’s boundary. The official name is Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve
- The Coromandel Forest Park is managed by the Department of Conservation whose excellent online resource describes major walks, how to get there, best time to go and camping regulations within the park.
LEARN MORE Guide to Coromandel Forest Park what to see and do.
PUKETUI VALLEY – BROKEN HILLS – HIDDEN COROMANDEL GEM
Find your explorer vibe and explore the PUKETUI VALLEY (COROMANDEL FOREST PARK)
- Department of Conservation camping spots nestled in regenerating forest
- Forest walks and rock pools
- Historic timber mining relics to ponder about the wholesale stripping of hillsides of mature trees
Kauaeranga Visitor Centre, 13 km up the Kauaeranga valley, is the main point of contact for track, hut and camping information, with 24-hr information panels under the covered veranda. The Visitor Centre is open daily (except Christmas Day) with extended hours over the summer school holidays. Hut tickets, hut bookings, maps, books and other conservation-related material are available, as well as displays visual of the area’s kauri logging days.
Puketui Valley can be accessed on a side road OPPOSITE the turnoff to Paunanui. Here there are several walks of up to 2 hours duration. There is a beautiful camping spot on the grassy banks of the Tairua River, which also provides cooling waterholes on hot days. A local’s favourite.
Look in the Travel Pack Section for DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION RECREATIONAL BROCHURE.
BEACHES – COROMANDEL PENINSULA
Hot Water Beach
On the list of must-dos in Aotearoa New Zealand. Hire / purchase a spade, dig a hole in a beach and soak in the naturally welling warm geothermal water seeping, out of the sand at low tide HOT WATER BEACH INGREDIENTS
- Acquire spade, sunscreen and beachy stuff
- Check tide timetable
- Short beach walk
- Start digging
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 stars
Want to know more about what to do nearby, getting there and best time to go … learn more
Hot Water Beach – Best Bits
What is the best time to visit the beaches?
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 beaches are alive with holiday makers, sailing boats and kakakers.
The beaches are free to enjoy.
Wharekaho Simpson Beach, Coromandel Pensinsula
The glorious memorable moments are free, from beaches to easy lazy days walking nearby 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. Or perhaps catch a taxi. For details on what to do nearby check what’s so great about Hahei.
Favourite beaches where kiwis holiday are:
CHECK OUT Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, Hahei Beach, Tairua Estuary, Whangamata Beach, and New Chums Beach attractions, things to do guide and the tide table for optimal conditions.
There are plenty of beaches to pick a quiet spot. Pick your beach according to your holiday location and enjoy fish n chips on the beach, picnics, reading a book, water sports or exploring nearby tracks. At all times be water safe, take insect repellent and water … learn more A guide to 16 Coromandel Beaches, hidden gems, location and what to see.
FAMILY FUN & MOSTLY FREE – COROMANDEL PENINSULA
ART & HERITAGE
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: NZ Jane.
MUSEUMS & HERITAGE SITES
What to do on a rainy day in the Coromandel Peninsula?
Visit over twelve museums, art galleries and hang out the many Whitianga cafes
HAURAKI / COROMANDEL PENINSULA GATEWAY TOWNS – HERITAGE MUSEUMS
Heritage does not recognise modern local government boundaries. In the 19th century extractive industries; timber and gold stretched from the Hauraki Gulf into the hills and valleys of the Coromandel Peninsula. Early polynesian settlement has left a rich legacy of Maori occupation, historic pa sites and tribal links throughout the district.
Follow the heritage story from the Hauraki to the quiet reaches of the Coromandel Peninsula for one of New Zealand’s lesser explored historical trails.
ROMANCE & INDULGENCE
Storybook romance delivered in spades (especially on Hot Water Beach), with adventurous couples finding their diving mojo. Couples intent on pampering and zen moments will find plenty of choice; with even an authentic Buddhist retreat on the cards, check out What’s so great about Colville.
Sunset locations galore with wharves and beaches to capture memories and scenic waterfalls inspiring impromptu picnics. The vibrant beachside resort town of Whitianga has cafes and restaurants offering harbour views with contemporary New Zealand cuisine.
Go glamping, go camping or stay by the beach in a comfortable motel, there is a wealth of places to stay while enjoying time together as a couples.
… learn more about Coromandel Peninsula romantic places; things to do for couples.
COROMANDEL PENINSULA WHERE TO GO SHOPPING
Whitianga artist, weekend market
Weekend markets are fun. You discover amazing creative people showcasing their talent in stalls. Unique personal crafts are great souvenirs of a beach holiday. The Whitianga weekend market is very popular with its entertainers, craft stalls and food / deli tents. The market is adjacent to the busy main street with its cafes and restaurants creating a shopping experience.
Coroglen weekend market is where fresh eggs, the local pottery, the knitting genius all have a stall perched by the roadside. It’s fun, it’s busy and sometimes difficult to get a car park.
Tis The Season Craft & Quilting Store Whitianga is a treasure trove for knitters, embroidery, crafts and quilting goods. The extensive premises are a block away from the main street and opposite a great cafe.
Thames – shopping
A glorious bookshop, Carson’s is a holiday highlight. Small souvenir gifts adorn the front entrance, carefully selected best sellers and indepth non-fiction invite readers to browse on the sofas and chairs nearby. The cafe next door has a open entrance into the bookshop. It’s heaven.
Thames is also home to quirky galleries, grocery stores specialising in organic foods, and shops found in regional towns throughout New Zealand. Make sure to check out Creating stuff, making stuff workshops, arty crafty things Coromandel – Best Bits as Thames is a serious contentor as a place to stay for a few days.
Carousel Bookshop, Thames
@Driving Creek Pottery
Coromandel Town is the small companion to Whitianga with a general grocery store, a well regarded fish shop marketing locally harvested seafood and home to the internationally known DRIVING CREEK railway and pottery. For lovers of art and craft. DRIVING CREEK is a must-go visitor destination.
COROMANDEL PENINSULA – EAT & DRINK
Rural cafes with a slick polished menu is a match made in holiday heaven. Koutanu is an invitation to bite into a woodfire pizza, from Luke’s Kitchen with local tipple from Blue Fridge Brewery
Together with the estuary, the reputation of ice cream flavours galore from the local dairy and the gold sandy bay, forget catering, enjoy the Coromandel. Covered in sand from the vigorous digging for your spa at Hot Water Beach visit Hot Water Brewing for a chill down. Slurping oysters fresh from the harvest in Coromandel town is joy to seafood lovers and Coromandel Oyster Co will not disappoint with rich seafood chowders, pates and accompanying platters ensuring hunger is kept at bay. And the idea of a cafe, homeware gifts and rustic homecrafted sauces and spices the Coromandel is the perfect Christmas New Year destination.
Check opening hours and sometimes you can be disappointed with the closure and/or change of ownership of a place.
… LEARN MORE 13 great places to eat and cafes in the Coromandel Peninsula
Oysters, Fish and White wine at Salt Restaurant at Whitianga, Coromandel
Coromandel Peninsula – towns and places
Thames main street
Towns and places in the Coromandel
Go to small towns and find the soul of the Coromandel in 10 things to do in Paeroa & Wahi, travel guide, activities: NZ Jane. Wahi 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 Wahi to potter. There are seaside communities such asHahei 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. Whitianga 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: NZ Jane.
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: NZ Jane and explore Thames coastal walkway or the School of Mines where New Zealand’s mining legacy was formed.
For beachside communities where kiwis holiday check out:
Thames School of Mines
GETTING TO THE COROMANDEL PENINSULA
Coromandel is approximately 2 hours driving from Auckland or Rotorua. Most people travel to Coromandel Peninsula by car as key attractions require transport as there is no regular bus service in the sparsely populated area.
The Coromandel Peninsula is easily accessible from Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua (Tauranga). The major highway is State Highway 25 which loops around the coast. The main access points to the peninsula are Kopu (Thames) and Paeroa. The Kopu Hikuai Road (state highway 25) is the major road across the mountain ranges (Coromandel Forest Park).
Whitianga to Thames lookout point
Eastern coast state highway 25 is the direct route to the many beaches along the eastern coastline and to Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve. The eastern road finishes at Stoney Bay.
The western coast road state highway 25 from Kopu, Thames goes north along the western shoreline to Coromandel town (becoming a no exit gravel road to the northern tip of the peninsula at Fletcher Bay. The roads are unsealed north of Colville. At the southern end of the peninsula, the Karangahake Gorge (SH2) is the main route through from Paeroa to the beaches, forests and historic sites of the south-eastern part of the peninsula, as well as the Bay of Plenty.
There is a ferry service between Auckland and Coromandel town. The ferry is crossing the Firth of Thames. Timetables and fares – Coromandel. The ferry service is suspended in the low season and forward bookings are required due to limited space.
Several regional airlines operate from Whitianga airfield
- The stalwart of New Zealand bus service, Bus to Whitianga INTERCITY has a year round daily service between Whitianga and Coromandel town with stops in small towns such as Thames.
- Go Kiwi Shuttles service Auckland airport with a daily route including small towns and the two major settlements of Whitianga and Coromandel town.
DRIVING – COROMANDEL PENINSULA – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can you easily drive between Whitianga and Coromandel town?
You can drive on sealed roads between Whitianga and Coromandel town on state highway 25 loop
There are a few gravel roads crossing the mountain ranges of the forest park. The most well gravel road is known as the 309 road. The well known gravel road, passes Waiau falls, swimming river holes and scenic outlooks. The road is very narrow, unsealed and unsuitable for long vehicles.
The most popular places to drive to on the Coromandel Peninsula is the eastern side (Whitianga) with Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and the sheltered sandy beaches creating the ideal where kiwis holiday every summer.
GETTING AROUND THE COROMANDEL PENINSULA
The regional public road transport service is not frequent. Consider water taxis to access beaches and bike hire companies to explore the region. There is a small regional vehicle rental company in Whitianga Peninsula Rent A Car | Whitianga. Live, work, stay and play. You would need to check out details and operation before booking. Due to the economic uncertainty local operators could have ceased operations.
BIKE & SHUTTLE SERVICES IN THE COROMANDEL PENINSULA
Hike & Bike Coromandel have a good reputation for service and reliability. Walk, cycle or tour the Northern Coromandel, Local Surrounds and the Coastal Walkway with Hike & Bike. Leave the planning and driving to a friendly team of two. Bike Hire, Bike Repairs and Bike Sales are also available.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COROMANDEL PENINSULA
The Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Coromandel Peninsula slogan ‘where kiwis holiday’ 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.
The best time to visit the Coromandel Peninsula is between December to mid-April. In the low winter season many tour operators hibernate their business.
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.
With 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 in the Coromandel in summer. 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.
Where kiwis holiday; the Coromandel Peninsula is extremely popular with local families who fill the beaches and campsites from Christmas through January.
February is marginally easier to obtain accommodation although availability can still be tight so book beforehand to avoid disappointment.
The Coromandel Peninsula is no more expensive than other parts of New Zealand. There are supermarkets in Whitianga and a well stocked grocery store in Coromandel town.
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.
The best beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula are numerous with plenty of choice. Check out our article on Top 5 favourite beaches in the Coromandel.
From your hub popular day trips include:
- 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 with DIVE ZONE. 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.
- Bush walking through pristine native forests. The Coromandel Peninsula has beautiful scenic reserves throughout the peninsula. Visitors are spoiled for choice. Check 10 short easy Coromandel walks, trip guide, things to see: NZ Jane for some tips and ideas which walks will suit your fitness levels and family.
If visitors to the Coromandel Peninsula have their own vehicle, it is the easiest way to get around the Coromandel by far. 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.
Animals on beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula are limited. Check out Summer Information for details.
The boat ramps on the Coromandel Peninsula are located here, Boat Ramps.
The ferry between Auckland and Coromandel is a a passenger ferry only.
Coromandel Town is a specific place, the Coromandel is a peninsula formally known as The Coromandel Peninsula.
Let’s get you there and around the place now. Check Coromandel road trips, getting there and round about.
WHERE TO STAY – COROMANDEL PENINSULA
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