The Coromandel Cruise
The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most popular places for North Islanders to go on an adventure holiday. Not just for its convenient proximity though, but because in this small area, there are enough tourist attractions to fill your itinerary planner to the brim, blow the bottom off the list and then keep on going for a few pages more.
Sparkling shores, luscious flora, a vivid arts scene and even a hot water beach, the Coromandel Peninsula is truly a must see in New Zealand.
Square Kauri Tree
Marvel at the unusual square trunked Kauri which is estimated to be 1,200 years old.
Hot Water Beach
A natural spring accessible either side of low tide, relax the body in your own dug hole in beautiful surroundings.
A gigantic arched cavern linking two secluded coves, Cathedral Coves is a natural wonder that shouldnt be missed.
Karangahake Gorge Tunnel Walk
Stretch the legs, take in some fresh air and experience walking through a 1100m old railway tunnel.
Photo Opportunity of L&P Bottle
World Famous in New Zealand, take the opportunity to get a photo with this icon.
Make you way to Thames – the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. No doubt you’ll spend the night at the Dickson Holiday Park and have visited their Tropical Butterfly and Orchid Garden – the only attraction of its kind in NZ, so you’ll be refreshed and ready to get into your trip!
If you’re travelling from Auckland, Thames is a lovely little town at the beginning of the Coromandel Peninsula, found around an hour and a half from Auckland's CBD following State Highway (SH) 1 south, turning off at SH2. You'll find plenty of stores both big and small to service your picnic needs, as well as a wonderful Saturday market for homemade, hand-crafted goodies.
Let's go! It's time to start seeing some of the sights we've talked up. The drive north gently winds along pristine coastal roads, lined with lush flora on one side and the lapping waves on the other. You'll also see loads of the nation's native Pohutukawa tree, which grows in abundance in these parts and flowers a luminous crimson every summer, heralding the coming of Christmas.
Approximately 40 minutes north of Thames, turning right for a brief detour at Tapu, is a short walk that's perfect for a selfie. The Square Kauri Tree track will last about 20 minutes, and takes you to one of the largest kauri trees in the region that just so happens to be a rather square-like shape. Weird but cool!
Back in the car, next stop is Coromandel. Coromandel is the must-visit township of its namesake peninsula. The drive here is a Kiwi icon, and a genuine spectacle when the sun is out and there's barely a cloud in the sky (though it's not too shabby on a cloudy either, we must admit). This historic place is a self-described haven for artistic people, leading to its plethora of galleries and craft stores.
Places To Stay
No holiday parks at this location
If you’ve awoken with some energy, the Department of Conservation has created an awesome little walking track called the Kauri Block, which should take around an hour and a half. You'll find an old Maori fortress (called a pa) up the hill here, which gives you a 360-degree vista of the township, Coromandel mountain range and all the many glittering bays in the surrounds.
The next leg of the itinerary sees you'll pass through the township of Whitianga en route to two internationally renowned natural landmarks. Stop for morning tea and take in the sights of this quaint township before travelling south an hour for an action packed afternoon visiting Cathedral Cove, which is a vast archway of stone towering over the beach, and easily accessible on foot or by kayak.
Next you'll want to relax at Hot Water Beach, which is hands down one of our favourite places on the peninsula. Two hours either side of low tide, you can access a piece of the shore that sits atop a bubbling underground river. If you dig a hole, this steamy water rises to the surface and creates your very own natural spa pool! And after the walking you’ve done today, a great relaxant. But timing is everything!
Lay your head down at the Seabreeze Holiday Park, conveniently located within a stone’s throw of Hot Water Beach. Here you can also grab a free spade for Hot Water Beach, and sample products from the park's own craft brewery over dinner.
Heading south, you’ll work your way along the coast passing through Whangamata before heading inland to Waihi. Both of these townships have great boutique shopping and the locals are extremely friendly.
In Waihi, be sure to take 20 minutes to walk up the hill to check out the Martha open pit, an amazing mining pit of significant proportions. If you’re looking to take a more relaxed approach to the itinerary, detour to Waihi Beach and stay at the Beachaven Holiday At Waihi Beach for a night.
If you’re too pumped to stop, head east towards Paeroa but be sure to keep an hour up your sleeve to walk the circuit at the Karangahake Gorge and walk through the 1100m former rail tunnel.
After your walk, continue along State Highway 2 to your final destination, Paeroa. You know you’ve made it when you’ll lay eyes on the giant L&P bottle, another photo opportunity – world famous in New Zealand.