A Quick Guide to The Coromandel
Hanging on to New Zealand’s magical North Island, the Coromandel Peninsula is most accurately described as paradise away from paradise. Its precious golden beaches and mountainous rainforests add a generous layer of authentic remoteness and seaside living to the Land of the Long White Cloud, Aotearoa. The coastal scenery is pristine, its people some of the most genuine and laid back and, best of all, the year-round warm climate is a real blessing. Are you ready to discover your own slice of heaven tucked away just 90 minutes away from busy Auckland? Grab your togs and prepare to dive in. It’s good for your soul, they say.
[click on bold titles to be taken to according Google Maps page]
The Pinnacles Follow the road through to Kauaeranga Valley, tie your laces and embark on an overnight adventure up to Pinnacles Hut. Rise early the next morning and climb the highest point to see the rocky spines in their full glory; all lit up and serene at sunrise. Fuel up while you take in the vistas and return via the Billy Goat track.
Cathedral Cove / Te-Whanganui-a-Hei Since you have already made it to here, I dare to assume you heard of this landmark before. The Cathedral Cove is not only of pivotal Maori importance, but it also stars in the screen adaptation of C S Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia.” Reach it by foot via a leisurely 40 min walk from Hahei or gain perspective on water by kayak or boat. The marine reserve surrounding this part of the coast is particularly impressive, and since crowds can be a challenge during the hotter months, a plunge into the ocean is an excellent alternative.
Shakespeare Cliff Dotted right across the peninsula, coastal lookouts are plentiful. This one, however, is a gem. While you gaze over nearby Flaxmill Bay and Cooks Beach, keep your notebook close by; such beauty may easily strike inspiration.
Mt Paku Collect picnic resources in the laid back town of Tairua and head up Mt Paku. I hope you packed plenty of food because there is a lot to take in. I’m talking a plethora of white sand bays, lush cliffs, and – in my case – double rainbows. That sweet silver lining…
Hot Water Beach How do you feel about digging up your very own hot pool – for free? If this sounds like you, ask your hotel for a shovel and get to work within two hours either side of low tide.
New Chums Beach / Wainuiototo A Kiwi’s idea of bliss begins here. White sand under your feet, the native forest around your shoulder and no roads, infrastructure or such in the vicinity. Well worth the trip north.
Karangahake Gorge Walkway Step back in time and wander along the photogenic railway once used for mining purposes. Head here to decided on which route to take.
Rapaura Watergardens The Coromandel’s flora and fauna is a prime example of what New Zealand’s earth can do. Escape to the tranquil water gardens north of Thames and just be. Ideal for a post-hike recharge before the adventure continues.
Cathedral Cove Macadamia Shop and Orchard Who knew New Zealand land grows macadamias? Walk the orchard and feast on the hand-picked delights fresh off the tree, dried, or made into tasty things such as dukkah, granola or brownies.
Art Galleries Whether you are hiding out from the rain or simply need a break from pursuing rainforests and beaches, a visit to a local art gallery is always a good idea. Bread and Butter Art Gallery in Whitianga and Moko Art Space just off Hot Water Beach are both exquisitely curated and well worth a peek.
(all vegan friendly)
Driving Creek Cafe A vegetarian delight in Coromandel town not to be missed.
Sola Cafe Thames, too, masters the art of dishing up vegetarian delicacies. No frills, no meat, no worries.
Wild Sage This fresh Whangamata find does seriously delicious cake and coffee.
Salt Beautiful food with equally beautiful views. To be safe, book ahead if you’re vegan.
Miha International cuisine on Monday nights fill up this beauty of a restaurant within the Puka Park Resort year-round. Remi, the chef, accommodated my vegan needs to a standard so high, I was left speechless. Merci!
Purangi Winery Pizzeria Kick back and devour a Wood-fired pizza in one of New Zealand’s most authentic winery. Genuine Kiwi charm, fresh ingredients and a delightful drop of vino will turn a quick lunch into an afternoon’s worth of activities. Please note, activities are strictly reduced to feasting and enjoying yourselves.
Blue Ginger Sometimes, Asian-inspired takeaways on the beach hit just the right spot. Choose buddha salads and nice creams.
The Church If in Hahei, The Church is an obvious choice. Combine the most wonderfully inviting staff with excellently priced and equipped individual lodges, and you are in for a treat.
Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort Puka Park Resort is one of the few hotels I have been to this year where I immediately felt at home. Luxury and practicality are balanced beautifully, while the rooms are superbly secluded and lush. Treat yourself and thank me later.
Get There and Around
Driving times from Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua are all around the 90 minutes mark. Roadtripping allows detours and a sense of real adventure, while buses and tours are just as convenient, especially for those travelling on a budget or by themselves.
When To Go
When Auckland takes a break over the Christmas and Easter holidays, this is where it heads. Beat the crowds and arrive during winter months. Otherwise, summer visits are most pleasant during the week, and the early riser will be rewarded with pink skies and blissful ocean dips.
The local tourism page provides excellent itineraries and weather updates as well as plenty of imagery to make you pack your bags right away.
Last but most definitely not least, click here to get inspired and view my complete Coromandel visual diary.