Serving up a seductive blend of coastal views, sandy beaches, bushy walkways, arty communities and heritage sites, it’s no wonder the Coromandel Peninsula is so popular for holidays.
It’s also conveniently close to Auckland, with short driving distances between sights. So if you’re looking for a Britz road-trip with maximum adventure for the mileage, this one is should be right up your street.
Auckland to Waihi Beach
Best Time of the Year
All year round
- Waihi Beach
To sample the City of Sails before hitting the road, overnight at Manukau Holiday Park, 15 minutes’ drive from the Britz Depot, and catch a bus to downtown Auckland. Once you’ve wandered along Queen Street and around the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter harbourside precincts, set your sights on Auckland Art Gallery or Museum, Ponsonby’s restaurants and bars, or board a cruise to the volcanic island of Rangitoto.
Auckland to Miranda
Set off towards Miranda via Clevedon, a country village with a wealth of provisions. The road winds around the Firth of Thames with numerous parks and rest areas for admiring the wide-ranging views. This side of the Firth is known as the Seabird Coast; see the feathery evidence on the short walk starting from Miranda Shorebird Centre. Five kilometres south, Miranda Holiday Park offers a chance for a hot soak in therapeutic mineral pools.
Miranda to Thames
Distance 35km - Driving Time 30 mins
Continue to the peninsula’s gateway, Thames, a good place to fuel up and stock up, with the bonus of historic sights and a waterside boardwalk.
SIDE TRIP - Kauaeranga Valley
Thirteen kilometres inland of Thames, verdant Kauaeranga Valley is a good place to learn about the peninsula’s natural and human history. Check out the visitor centre, then take one of many walks that explore the surrounds. There are also eight basic camping areas, nestled into the bush.
Thames to Coromander Town
Distance 55km - Driving Time 1 hour
Snake around the peninsula’s western bays to Coromandel Town, a charming gold rush-era town. As well as arty shops and several good eateries, there are enjoyable walks such as the Tucks Bay/Kauri loop. The town’s most famous attraction, however, is Driving Creek Railway where cute carriages clatter through native forest up to a spectacular lookout, while the departure depot doubles as a pottery workshop and gallery. The town has two Top 10 holiday parks.
Coromandel Town to Whitianga
Distance 44km - Driving Time 45 mins
SH25 crosses the peninsula to reach Whitianga. On the shores of Mercury Bay with a sunny disposition, the town makes a great base for exploring this stunning stretch of coastline. A warm welcome awaits at Mercury Bay Holiday Park, winner of the AA Traveller 2014 Spirit of Hospitality Award.
SIDE TRIP New Chums Beach
Signposted off SH25 between Coromandel Town and Whitianga, New Chums Beach may well be the beach of your dreams. A swathe of sand, lapped by turquoise waters and fringed with native forest, it is all the more beautiful for its isolation – the 30-minute walk to reach it from Whangapoua (less than ten minute’s drive from the SH25 turnoff) keeps visitor numbers low.
Whitianga to Cathedral Cove
Distance 37km - Driving Time 40 mins
Continue south to Hahei, a popular holiday resort filled to overflowing come high summer. Much of the crowd comes for the 30-minute walk to Cathedral Cove – one of NZ’s most photogenic beaches, famed for its huge stone arch. You can avoid the masses by paddling there with Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours.
Cathedral Cove to Hot Water Beach
Distance 8km - Driving Time 15 mins
Get a hot beach body by digging a hole in the sand and lolling about in the waters that seep up from underground springs. Strange but true! Overnighting at the Top 10 Holiday Park will make it easier to hit the beach at the right tide time.
Hot Water Beach to Whangamata
Distance 59km - Driving Time 1 hour
Pretty darn irresistible, Whangamata cranks up to the max during the summer holidays, so time your visit accordingly. Fortunately, the beautiful beach is a big ’un, and you can always seek respite the village’s shops and cafes, or head to Wentworth campsite where there’s a two-hour walk to a waterfall.
Whangamata to Waihi Beach
Distance 40km - Driving Time 50 mins
SH25 meanders onward to Waihi, site of a huge, opencast gold and silver mine, right behind the main street. Ten minutes’ drive away is Waihi Beach, a 9km stretch of sand with one of NZ’s safest surf breaks. Its two waterfront holiday parks, Bowentown and the Top 10, offer suitably scenic surrounds to round off and reflect on your Coromandel adventure.