Renowned for pristine beaches, misty forest, stunning coastline and a laid-back vibe, The Coromandel is one of New Zealand’s most beloved holiday destinations. Dive tastebuds first into the region’s fantastic food scene and explore the world of artisans and craftspeople. Seek solace in cosy accommodation and make time to rest, reconnect and recharge as you nourish your soul and invigorate your senses in The Coromandel.
But first, watch our 2 day trip to The Coromandel here:
How to get to the Coromandel
Located in the North Island of New Zealand, the Coromandel is around 2 1/2 hours drive from Auckland. It is the perfect addition to a New Zealand road trip itinerary or a great extension to a visit to Auckland (Read: How to spend 2 days in Auckland here).
Overseas visitors will most likely want to travel to Auckland by plane. Visiting from Australia, we flew direct from Brisbane Airport to Auckland Airport with a flight time of 3 hours. We opted to fly with Qantas as they allowed 30kg of checked luggage and an in-flight meal.
How long to spend in the Coromandel
We did a 3 1/2 week road trip starting with 3 nights in Auckland, 2 nights in the Coromandel and on to the Bay of Plenty and beyond. While you could visit the Coromandel as a day trip from Auckland, I wouldn’t recommend it as there is so much to experience in the region a short visit of a few hours wouldn’t do it justice!
Our 2 nights in the Coromandel were fantastic but, honestly, I wish we’d had one extra day and night. The Coromandel Peninsula extends 85 kilometres (53 miles) north from the western end of the Bay of Plenty and we underestimated how vast the region actually is!
There’s an abundance of beautiful sites and great activities spread throughout the Coromandel and we found ourselves doing a lot of driving to see them all! Having one extra day and night would’ve allowed us to spread our itinerary out and have a little more time to slow down the pace and soak it all in so, if you can, allow for 3 full days at a minimum.
Where to stay in the Coromandel
We stayed at Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort, a tranquil retreat set among 25 acres of lush scenery with views out to the water. Located on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in Pauanui, this beautiful bush escape offers luxurious chalet accommodation and incredible food.
High timber ceilings create an open and earthy space inside each chalet with a private deck opening up to the lush greenery outside. Our stay in chalet 39 truly felt like sleeping in the treetops, listening to the sounds of trickling water and local wildlife outside our door. The cosy interior features an LED television, tea and coffee making facilities, sofa and armchair, a very large and comfortable bed and a generous-sized bathroom completed with under floor heating, large bath and seperate shower.
One of the most unexpected things about our stay at Puka Park Resort was the onsite restaurant, Miha. The exceptional quality and flavour of the food combined with fantastic service make Miha dining destination well worth visiting whether you’re staying at the resort or not. We loved each and everything we ate at Miha, with Matt declaring his steak one of the best he has ever eaten. It was so good, he ordered it two nights in a row. Find Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort here.
How to get around the Coromandel
On arrival at Auckland Airport we collected our hire car from GO Rentals and, if you’re planning to visit the Coromandel, a car is essential. We opted for a small SUV (Toyota RAV4) owing to our 3 1/2 week road trip through the north and south islands, though a small car would be fine too. The GO App allowed us to complete check-in before we departed home, making our vehicle pick-up fast and easy! Find GO Rentals here.
Pro Tip: Stay connected with a local sim card from SimsDirect. Get your sim card before leaving home, ensuring you’re able to ‘check-in,’ navigate and find great things to do on the go!
9 of the BEST things to do in the Coromandel
Putting together a Coromandel itinerary? Here’s what we got up to over two full days:
1. Karangahake Gorge
Immerse yourself in nature with a visit to Karangahake Gorge, the perfect stopping point on your way to the Coromandel. The gorge sits between the Kaimai and Coromandel ranges, at the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula. The canyon was forged by the powerful waters of the Ohinemuri River and you’ll find several walking tracks to follow, all starting from the Karangahake Car Park. We did a section of the Rail Tunnel Loop, taking us through a 1km rail tunnel and past relics of the gold mining era. Find Karangahake Gorge here.
2. Falls Retreat
If you’re passionate about food, a visit to Falls Retreat is essential. The award-winning restaurant is set among the picturesque grounds of the retreat, serving up dining experiences like ‘paddock to plate,’ ‘the pizza social,’ ‘Sunday feast,’ and more, all designed to immerse diners in the flavours of the region. You will need to check the Falls Retreat website, book a spot and plan your itinerary so your visit coincides with one of these weekend-only events. Falls also does accommodation so you could always spend a night or two feasting and relaxing! Find Falls Retreat here.
3. The Depot Precinct
Located in Thames, a spot that was once new Zealand’s biggest town, The Depot was once a working stop for buses travelling to Auckland. Now, this historic spot has been restored and converted to an eclectic hub for local artisans, cafes and purveyors of fine goods. Take a walk past the gorgeous storefronts and grab a coffee and a bite to eat from Cafe Melbourne then head out to explore Thames and peruse local thrift stores and art galleries.
4. Coromandel Distilling Company
Located within The Depot, the Coromandel Distilling Company warrants special mention as a must-visit. Owners, distillers and all-around legends, Paul and Daniela combine their passion for New Zealand and backgrounds in science to create their award-winning gin; Awildian. Handcrafted using select botanicals, a German still and locally sourced ingredients like mānuka honey, each bottle is a love letter to the winding path of life, travel and the Coromandel… and it tastes damn good, too! Find the Coromandel Distilling Company here.
5. Hot Water Beach
Unique experiences don’t get much better than Hot Water Beach, even if you end up visiting on the one day it’s pouring rain and end up looking like, ‘I know what you did last summer,’ like Matt and I. You’ll need to make your way to the east coast to a spot called Mercury Bay, planning your visit for low tide. Here, underground hot springs can be exposed with a shovel and a little determination, allowing the warm water to bubble up to the surface and create a naturally heated pool to sit and relax. Shovels are available to hire locally but we got ours from our accommodation. It’s important you know exactly where to dig, visit at precisely low tide and understand this amazing experience is popular for good reason! Find Hot Water Beach here.
6. Cathedral Cove
There’s no denying the spectacular archway of Cathedral Cove is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful spots. Formed naturally over time, this Coromandel icon is a must-do! The walking track starts at a paid carpark, winding along the cliffs and through forest to a set of stairs leading down to the beach. Here, pohutukawa trees cling to the cliffs and sparkling blue water adds a sense of magic to the area. Bring a picnic with you to enjoy on the shore and time your visit for low tide, if you can, so you can access the secluded coves on the other side of the archway. Find Cathedral Cove here.
7. The Pour House
A short drive from Cathedral Cove, in Hahei, The Pour House combines two of life’s greatest pleasures, pizza and beer. This family-owned craft brewery, bar and restaurant is run by husband and wife team, Neil and Karen. The delicious beer on offer is produced onsite by Neil and his team at the Coromandel Brewing Company, housed within The Pour House. Get cosy with a tasting paddle and sink your teeth into one of their delicious pizzas or main meals, the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Find The Pour House here.
8. The Lawnmower’s Son Art Gallery
Located across the street from The Pour House, The Lawnmower’s Son is more than an art gallery. This multi-generational family are local custodians, preserving the historic house by which the gallery is located and ensuring the ancient fig and 600-year old pohutukawa tree on-site remain unspoilt. Wander through the gallery and, if you’re lucky, relish the chance to meet Shaun and his dad, the original Mr. Mower, to hear the story of how they went from mowing lawns to safeguarding Hahei for generations to come. Find The Lawnmowers Son here.
9. The Lost Spring
A great Coromandel itinerary is all about finding the balance between outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, great food and opportunities to unwind. A visit to The Lost Spring is sure to check that last box! Slip out of a fluffy robe and into the soothing geo-thermal waters surrounded by tropical gardens. The water here flows from a spring found deep within the earth’s surface, with temperatures ranging from 32°C to 41°C. Sit back and enjoy your soak with a cocktail or two and a bite to eat. Find The Lost Spring here.
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Useful travel resources for your next adventure!
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TourRadar – for booking tours