The Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand stretches 85 kilometres and separates the Hauraki Gulf from the Bay of Plenty. Home to some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the North, it is renowned for its white sandy beaches, sub-tropical rainforests and dramatic volcanic cliffs.The area is made up of several remote holiday towns, with three main populations : Thames, the Coromandel township (spawned by the 1860’s gold-rush) and Whitianga. The road around the Peninsula clings to the coast, which between settlements is very remote (part of the appeal when travelling this way). Known as the Pacific Coast Highway, one side gives way to endless ocean while the other boasts high, pohutukawa-lined cliffs. For most, the trip is done in a clockwise direction beginning in Thames, a 1.5 hour drive from Auckland City.
Although offering a multitude of attractions both exhilarating and sedentary, there are a few key must-dos in the area that should be on any holiday bucket list. The first (in no particular order) is the Driving Creek Railway. Originally built to transport clay pottery, the small historic car takes you through native Kauri forests and impressive engineering features. If you’re more the active railway type, hire a bike and spend some time on the Hauraki Rail Trail, a 2-3 day journey through the Karangahake Gorge, listed as one of the 14 Wonders of New Zealand. Not that keen biking? no worries. Walk The Pinnacles, an 8-hour round trip through Kauri dams, tramlines, and abandoned logging pursuits. A steep jagged summit rewards you with commanding views of the entire Peninsula. And if a little rest and relaxation is required, head to Hot Water Beach and dig yourself a natural spa in the sand – which quickly fills with steaming underground water. While you’re there, drive ten minutes to HaHei beach, and walk, boat or kayak to Cathedral Cove a huge beachfront cave formed by cliffs of volcanic ash. For those into history, stop at Mercury Bay, the place where Captain Cook anchored to track its planetary namesake. The museum opposite the shore is a must-see if you’re interested in this kind of thing.
Between its scenic attractions and unique charms, the Coromandel has a bustling arts and crafts scene as well as quality local food and wine. Organic produce is abundant and the region offers many bespoke eateries, breweries, orchards, and farm-stays. To make the most of your time here, we recommend at least two nights. However, If you’re really gunning for it, it can be done in one.
So pack up your outdoor clothes, write yourself a wish-list and head out on the road for a kiwi-style holiday you won’t forget in a hurry.