The Coromandel Peninsula is definitely a gorgeous part of New Zealand on the North Island. It’s an easy and beautiful 85km road trip from the western end of the Bay of Plenty. At its broadest point it is 40km. The Coromandel Peninsula forms a natural barrier which protects the Firth of Thames and the Hauraki Gulf from the Pacific Ocean to the east.
7 Reasons Why You Should Explore The Coromandel Peninsula?
- You’re looking for a scenic road trip
- Desire to explore nature
- Want to get grounded
- Looking for free camping grounds with awesome views
- Interested in Historical Gold Mining Towns
- Enjoy fishing
- Beach lover
As you drive along the Highway 25 which hugs the peninsula you will see numerous fisherman ready to get their catch of the day. If you love seafood you are certainly in the perfect area to enjoy delicious fresh seafood.
There are loads of free camping spots dotted along the coast with the majority of them being right on the waters edge. Can’t beat that!! Imagine going to sleep with the sound of the lapping of the waves, waking to a gorgeous scenic setting. Perhaps eating your catch of the day for dinner or breakfast.
Places We Visited On The Coromandel Peninsula
- Te Puru Beach
- Tapu Beach
- Coromandel Town
- Coromandel Wharf
- Port Jackson
- Cathedral Cove
- Hot Water Beach
- Karangahake Gorge
As we drove along the scenic winding Highway 25 we stopped spiratically to soak in the serenity and beauty. You often hear about scenic roads that hug the peninsula or coast, well this one definitely does. It will not disappoint you.
We then arrived at the Coromandel Town which is a bustling place with both locals and tourists. It’s popular for its Driving Creek Railway where you can take a narrow-gauge train ride through the mountain forests. Sadly we didn’t have time to take on this adventure this trip, however it is an awesome reason to return to this beautiful part of New Zealand’s North Island.
Coromandel Town was a gold mining town, gold was first found here in 1852.
It’s a small town, but a lovely town with great character. It has a really nice feel. There are lots of places to eat, a great park to relax in whilst the kids play. People of Coromandel love their fish and chips, New Zealand’s soft drink L & P (Lemon and Paeroa) and cheeky dips!! Like Thames, the historical buildings have signage advising you of the history of the area.
As we explored the area we drove past the Coromandel Wharf and couldn’t resist driving on it. Theres not many wharfs you can drive on. Dotted along the wharf you’ll see many fishing boats and at the end of the wharf there is a self serve petrol station. This was not just used by the fisherman, campers were driving up and refueling!
There was something about this wharf that we liked. The tide was out which added to its character. We could see ourselves staying in the little hut…if only we could, what a wonderful place to wake up!
From the Coromandel Wharf you have a beautiful view of the bay and can see the oyster/muscle farms.
Port Jackson Recreation Reserve
The drive to Port Jackson Recreation Reserve is very scenic. You drive along the windy roads through the farmland mountains and overlook to the ocean. What more could you ask for?
The Port Jackson Recreation Reserve runs along the Port Jackson beach. It’s an awesome place to explore and set up camp. From your campsite you look down onto the wide sandy beach. On a clear day you can see Little Barrier Island and the Great Barrier Island. The Port Jackson Recreation Reserve has long drop toilets and BBQ facilities. What more can you ask for?
It’s a perfect spot to take in the serenity, enjoy the beach and explore the coastal walks. It’s located 58km north of Coromandel Town.
Whitianga is a gorgeous town on the north eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s located on Mercury Bay. Whitianga has become a popular tourist destination for locals and tourists alike. Once you arrive here you will understand why. The area is scenic, has a great feel, place for boat owners, fisherman and those looking to explore nearby areas.
You will find a visitors information centre with friendly staff members ready to provide you with details on where you should visit.
There is information dotted around the town providing you with history. You can explore the heritage trail. As we were on a tight schedule we were unable to explore the trail. Yes, we already know we will return and next trip we’ll travel the Coromandel Peninsula in a camper van.
There are pubs, cafes and bakeries all well known by locals to provide great food to the hungry travellers and locals.
After leaving the lovely town of Whitianga we headed to the Cathedral Cove. Wow. What a beautiful place. You are required to park at a “park & ride”. Totally recommend you take this option. We chose to park closer and as a result were on a time frame due to parking restrictions. Trust me this is not a place you want to be restricted due to a car park time frame!!
If you opt to park at the “park & ride” they will drop you off at the top of the hill where the walks commence. There are a number of walks to choose from. Due to our parking and time restrictions we only had time to explore the Cathedral Cove.
The walk down the cliff to the Cathedral Cove is approximately 40mins one way. Although the walk is mainly downhill don’t be tricked there is a lot of uphill walking too!! Is it worth the walk? Most definitely. Once you reach the bottom you will find a beautiful white sandy beach. Take your swimmers weather permitting as it is an amazingly beautiful place to take a dip and then relax on the sandy white beach.
You then walk through the archway to another gorgeous white sandy beach. It is truly picturesque. The area draws a lot of tourists. Patience is required to get your special instagram photo. A must see.
To get to the Cathedral Cove you walk through the forest which has been planted out in memory of the World War 1.
Hot Water Beach
The Hot Water Beach is a unique beach which to experience it at its best visit within 2hrs either side of low tide. Ensure you bring a spade or hire one at the beach. I hear you say “why do I need to come at this time and bring a spade (shovel)”.
If you dig in the sand during these times you will create your own hot spa pool!! Hot bubbles and steam will appear!! This is what makes the beach so unique and a place not to be missed!! If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be! Where else could you do this on the Pacific Ocean?
It was a rainy day when we visited so we opted to watch others who were digging away. Sure enough it didn’t take too long to see the steam rising from the sand as the pools of water emerged!!
If you’re not into digging your own spa pool, its also a great place for experienced surfers to grab a wave or you may prefer to stroll along the beach and surrounding areas. The beach is not suitable for swimming due to its dangerous rip currents and large waves. It is only suitable for experienced surfers.
Other Places We Explored On The North Island
Take a look at the below links of other beautiful places we explored on the North Island. Note these are just a few of the amazing places to take an adventure. We still have so many places to explore!! If anyone tells you that 10 days is enough to explore, think twice!! Suggest you take at least 3-4 weeks.
- Lake Taupo
- Waitomo Caves
- Rotorua including Redwoods Forest, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Rotorua Gondola
- Thames the start of the Coromandel Peninsula
- Karangahake Gorge, southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula
If you’ve travelled the Coromandel Peninsula what are your favourite places? Where would you recommend we explore? We’d love to hear about your experiences.