46° below: Explore the Subantarctic Islands this summer
Expand the 'travel local' mantra slightly and scratch your travel itch in the Subantarctic Islands. Your passport might be gathering dust, but ...
A rustic and unspoilt landscape, The Coromandel boasts rich heritage, rainforest and a spectacular coastline. Built on gold, it's now a famous haven for artists and craftspeople and home to a picturesque coastal playground waiting to be discovered.
Southern Coromandel Fascinating gold-mining history and lush rainforest are the main attractions at the southern end of The Coromandel. In the town of Waihi there’s a gold mine still very much in operation. Waihi is also the gateway to the rainforest-clad Karangahake Gorge, with its hiking trails and gold-mining relics. Beyond the gorge lies Paeroa, home of Lemon & Paeroa – New Zealand’s very own soft drink. North of Paeroa is Thames, main centre of The Coromandel. Thames has a rich history – the latter years of the 19th Century were the boom years of a gold rush.
Coastal Playground At the northern end is the beach resort of Whitianga; a sheltered harbour makes this a great spot for boating, fishing and kayaking. The drive south along the east coast is a visual treat, winding through forest and offering glimpses of the ocean. Gems along the way include Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Towards the southern end, Whangamata is known for great surf but also offers swimming, fishing, hiking and mountain biking.
Coromandel Beach Life Superb beaches are one of the main drawcards on the eastern coast of The Coromandel and the aces up the region’s sleeve are Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. But these are not the only good beaches in the area. Whitianga’s gems include Buffalo Beach, stretching out along Mercury Bay north of the harbour, and Cooks Beach on the southern side. Whangamata has safe swimming at Whangamata Harbour and at Opoutere.
Whitianga Situated in Mercury Bay, Whitianga offers watery activities in its deep-water harbour – fishing, boating, kayaking and swimming. Cathedral Cove and Hahei Tiny Hahei is a sleepy little place during winter, but emerges as a busy holiday town every summer. Great beaches ensure its summertime appeal. Hot Water Beach Grab a spade (or rent one from the store or café) and get digging – for two hours either side of low tide visitors can enjoy their very own hot pool in the sand! Tairua and Pauanui Twin towns on either side of a river estuary. Both have beaches. Whangamata One of the country’s most popular surfing towns, Whangamata offers great surf breaks that draw surfers from all over.
The Coromandel combines natural attractions with a fascinating goldfields history. Dig your own hot pools at Hot Water Beach, launch into a canyoning or cycling adventure, tour a mine from the gold-rush era or just make the most of the region’s relaxed coastal playground. Dig into the area's gold-mining past at attractions such as the Thames Museum, Goldmine Experience and Waihi Gold Mine Tours, or get adventurous at Canyonz. Lush gardens abound around these parts – check out the green-thumbed genius behind the Rapaura Watergardens, Waterlily Gardens or kick back and soak in the Miranda Hot Springs. Make a splash in Coromandel Town with Coromandel Kayak Adventures or explore on foot with Coromandel Discovery. There's history to discover at Coromandel School of Mines & Historical Museum, crafts and heritage to enjoy at Driving Creek Railway & Potteries, and delicious treats from The Coromandel Smoking Co. Explore the Coromandel's magnificent coastline with Cathedral Cove Dive & Snorkel, Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours, and Glass Bottom Boat – Cathedral Cove Cruise. Unwind at The Lost Spring, take a personalised tour with Kiwi Dundee Adventures, or browse for unique gifts at shop/gallery Moko Artspace.
The Coromandel is peppered throughout with excellent cafés and good restaurants. It’s also the spiritual home to New Zealand’s iconic soft drink and Kiwiana icon, L&P – the ‘P’ stands for Paeroa, and there’s no better place to try a bottle! In southern Coromandel there are several great cafés in Thames, including Coco Coffee Bar and Sola Café while the L&P Café, Bar and Brasserie in Paeroa is an iconic place to stop. Success Café is a Coromandel Town favourite. For more substantial fare, opt for contemporary Kiwi cuisine at Pepper Tree Restaurant & Bar or UMU Café, or sip a drink in the historic Star and Garter Hotel, established in 1873. Good coffee stops along Coromandel Coast include Café Coghill House, Hot Waves Café and The Old Mill Café, while you can get dinner with Kiwi fish ‘n’ chips at Craig’s Traditional Fish & Chips or gourmet burgers at Soul Burger. For something more substantial, Miha Restaurant serves Pacific Rim flavours with a European twist, while Salt Restaurant & Bar offers fine dining situated right on the waterfront. If you're feeling like a few quiet drinks or a big night, try Punters Bar & Grill.
The Coromandel has plenty of accommodation options available for those travelling on a budget, but there are a number of good options available for those looking for more sophisticated offerings as well. In southern Coromandel those looking for value should opt for Dickson Holiday Park. If you've got a bit more money to spend, check out Brunton House B&B, the Tuscany on Thames Motel, or the luxury of Poets Corner Lodge. Anchor Lodge Motel and Tui Lodge in Coromandel Town offer low-cost options while Coromandel Court Motel, Driving Creek Villas, Tangiaro Kiwi Retreat and The Little Farm provide a range of more upmarket options. A backpacker's paradise, the Coromandel Coast has plenty of cheaper accommodation options available, including On the Beach Backpackers, Pinnacles Lodge, and Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. For family accommodation or a few more creature comforts, try Admiralty Lodge Motel, Albert No. 6, Beachfront Resort, Crow’s Nest Apartments, Marina Park Apartments, Pipi Dune B&B, The Esplanade Apartments Whitianga or the Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort.
There is no regional airport in The Coromandel, though there are small airstrips for flights from Auckland at Thames, Coromandel, Whitianga and Pauanui. The Coromandel is 90 minutes by road from Auckland, Rotorua or Tauranga. Coaches provide regular services to, from and around the region. The Coromandel can be a great region to explore and discover by car, although some roads are narrow and winding. A passenger ferry service to Coromandel also operates from Auckland. A ferry crosses between Whitianga and Ferry Landing. Find out more at i-SITEs at Thames, 200 Mary Street, Coromandel at 355 Kapanga Road, Whangamata, 616 Port Road and Whitianga at 66 Albert Street.