A three minute guide to the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
The Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand, is home to some of the most dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery in the North Island. Renowned for its white sandy beaches, sub-tropical rainforests and steep volcanic cliffs this area is the ideal holiday destination and a must-do for anyone visiting New Zealand.
The Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand stretches 85 kilometres and separates the Hauraki Gulf from the Bay of Plenty. The area is made up of several remote holiday towns, with three main populations — Thames, 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, the road on one side gives way to endless ocean while on the other — craggy Pohutukawa-lined cliffs meld with dense overland rain forest. For most, the trip is done in a clockwise direction beginning in Thames, a 1.5 hour drive from Auckland City.
The Coromandel Peninsula is a natural playground where pristine coastline meets rugged inland terrain. 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 on a bike? 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. 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 water from underground.
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. And for those into history, a stop at Mercury Bay where Captain Cook anchored to track its planetary namesake. The museum opposite the bay is a must-see if you're interested in this kind of thing.
Although beautiful in any season, The best time to visit the Coromandel is in Summer — to fully make the most of the outdoor attractions on offer. Temperatures range from 25-31 degrees celsius (77-87 degrees fahrenheit) at this time of year.
With both scenic attractions and unique beach side charm, the Coromandel is a relaxed summer paradise. It also 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. If you're looking for the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure, the Coromandel is has something for everyone.