Roadtrip: Auckland to the Coromandel (Return)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Auckland to Coromandel return – 3 Days

For a short North Island road trip, this one packs a punch. Discover the stunning Coromandel Peninsula including the iconic Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove and New Chums Beach. This is one of the best road trips from Auckland.


Karangahake Gorge

Head for the Bombay hills, south of Auckland city, then take a left onto State highway 2. Get your camera ready to capture the breathtaking Karangahake Gorge, a great place to stop for a break.

Waihi/ Waihi Beach

Soak up the green farmland and native NZ bush on your hour and fifty-minute drive to the township of Waihi. Tour the nearby working goldmine or train enthusiasts and history buffs can go back in time on the Goldfields Historic Railway.


Skirting the northern reaches of the Bay of Plenty, Take State Hwy 25 north up the Coromandel eastern coast. This area’s population booms during summer, and gazing at the stunning blues of sea and sky as you drive, you’ll understand why.

Whangamata is a chilled-out surf town. Big enough to have great coffee, small enough to be friendly. Get involved with a surf lesson, or for something really special, book a tour to Whenuakura/Donut Island. Access is only by kayak or paddleboard but when you’ve made it through the narrow entrance, the island’s wildlife sanctuary and beautiful lagoon is out of this world.

There is plenty of accommodation to choose from whether you’re planning on a hostel, motel or, if you’re after something more boutique, try the Bushland Park Lodge– champagne, candles and chocolates in the outdoor bath anyone? Campers can try Opoutere Coastal Camping, fifteen minutes up the coast.


Continuing up the coast the next morning, the drive to Pauanui is forty minutes. A purpose-built holiday community, there are some lovely boutiques for the shoppers and good eateries. Take a tour to Slipper, Shoe or Aldermen Islands or hire a bike and eat fish and chips on the beach for lunch.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is a beautiful long white sand beach framed in cliffs between Tairua and Whitianga, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Castle Island. A fifty-minute drive from Pauanui, this slight detour off the beaten track is worth it to dig your own thermal spa in the sand.

Hire a spade when you have lunch at Hotties Café or Hot Waves Café. Or pick one up at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.

Cathedral Cove

After your soak in your custom-made hot pool, you’re off to discover more iconic New Zealand, only a fifteen-minute drive away through Hahei. Cathedral cove is accessible by foot, boat or kayak. The walk is two and half kilometres - an easy walking track.

Once you’ve filled your Instagram feed with photos your friends will hardly believe, it’s back to the car for the half an hour drive north to gorgeous Whitianga.


You’ll catch the last rays of sun on the beach here, before a well-deserved glass of something special and turning in for the night. Right on the main road, looking out over the sea you can take your pick of accommodation, including Baileys at the Beach motel. An unmissable dinner treat is a stacked gourmet burger at Hangry Burger, topped off with one of their delicious chocolate brownies.

The beach is the main attraction, but those with children will love Whiti Farm Park.

For travellers wanting something a bit more sophisticated The Lost Springs is within reach with hot pools, day spa and restaurant.


New Chums Beach

On the itinerary today is a visit to New Chums, voted one of the top ten beaches in the world and another great Instagram worthy vista. Yes, it really is that special! Enjoy stunning scenery on the forty-minute drive to Whangapoua and park at the north end of the beach. The walk to New Chums involves a stream crossing and some climbing, but the views out over the coastline far outweigh the cost of any effort. Time stands still here. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life. Wear good shoes and allow an hour return.

Thames Township

From Whangapoua, head across the top of the peninsula, past Coromandel Town and take the famous pohutakawa-lined Thames Coast Road south. It’s an hour and a half to Thames township. The brightly coloured Waiomu Beach café makes a great lunch stop.

The main street in Thames is home to the Saturday morning market, showcasing the area’s produce and people.


On the far side of the Firth of Thames is Miranda. Keep your swimsuit and towel handy so you can stop for a soak in the Miranda Hot Spings.

Those curious about NZ birdlife can stop for a walk at Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre before the easy hour’s drive back to Auckland City.

If you’re looking for epic North Island road trip ideas, this one needs to be on the list. From all of us at ___Mode, happy travels!

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