I hit the Coromandel Peninsula's roads with just a map, and no plans -apart the one to get lost and enjoy the journey. This 85kms long peninsula extending into the Pacific Ocean awaits with loads of gems to be discovered...
Only a few hours drive from Auckland, the stunning Coromandel Peninsula is a wonderful road trip destination in New Zealand. With a mountainous spine running down the middle of the peninsula, a magnificent coast fringed with golden sand beaches, picturesque fishing villages and mining town, there's a lot to experience. And not only it's rich with a gorgeous nature, this region is off the beaten path -which means if you go during weekdays, you might find yourself alone on the road, with the most scenic views for yourself.
Exploring the Coromandel was one of the (many) highlights of my 6 months road trip in New Zealand. Wanna know why? Pack your bags and follow me...
Itinerary of a road trip in the Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel is one of these places where you just want to drive, drive, drive and never stop. Landscapes rolls past, lush. Roads are lined with bushes, hiking trails and a honey shops. Nobody in sight. Ohhh, New Zealand, I love you so much!
I stayed in the Coromandel for 6 days, based in Thames. It was enough time to explore the surroundings, even though I'm sure there's still plenty I haven't discovered yet. As usual in New Zealand, having your own car is the best option, so you can stop wherever you want and soak up the serenity. If you don't have a car, there are always buses (which means traveling with a big group of tourists) or hitchhiking, which is always a good way to meet the locals, but bare in mind there aren't much people on the road, and the weather can be capricious sometimes...
Discover the itinerary of a road trip in the Coromandel Peninsula, crossing lovely villages, green valleys and a colorful coast. Ready for one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand?
Thames, a charming historic town
This peninsula radiates some kind of mystery. My road trip starts in charming little Thames, where time seems to have stopped centuries ago. The village had its golden age during the great gold rush. Today, it's a quiet historic town lined with vintage boutiques. Thames is the ideal base to explore the surroundings. I arrived there with the idea of staying 3 days, to actually leave 6 days later. If you want to experience simple slow life living, this is your place...
Kauaeragan Valley, into the wild
If you enjoy getting into the wilderness, you'll be more than satisfied in Kauaeranga Valley. It's the ideal playground for hikers, nature lovers, campers and mountain bikers. There are heaps of hiking trails for all levels going across the bush, ranging from half an hour stroll to overnight trail. Look up, if you're lucky, you could spot a colorful exotic bird in the trees...
Hot water beach, one of New Zealand's natural spas
Take your shovel and prepare to dig! As its name implies, Hot Water Beach is popular for its naturally heated water. People come here to dig themselves a hole in the sand and create their own little spa pool. Go early in the morning if you want to have some peace, as the beach can be so crowded it's even hard to find a spot where to dig! Fun experience though.
Coromandel Town, a haven for artists
This quaint little town will make you feel like in the Old West! Like most villages in the peninsula, its history is rooted in the gold that used to be mined outside of town. Nowadays, many artists and craftspeople live in Coromandel Town. They opened many creative shops and restaurants, creating a picturesque character to the place. Definitely a good stop for a homemade lunch!
Cathedral cove, narnia's wonderland
On the Eastern part of the peninsula, Cathedral Cove is part of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve. This magic location is worldwide famous as the settings for the scene in which the Pevensie kids took their first steps back into Narnia... And it is a real wonderland indeed!
You can access to the remote beach by foot or by boat, which limits the amount of people who visits the place at one time. Even though I'm not a big fan of tourists stuff, this time I chose to go on a boat tour. A small one, with only 8 people plus a guide aboard. We sailed all the way from Whitianga to Cathedral Cove, Champagne Roc, Simpsons Beach, along the most stunning deserted beaches and gorgeous private villas. Waters so transparent we could see colorful fishes dancing around from the boat. Sceneries truly worthy a movie set. Unbelievable.
If you get there during the right season AND if you're lucky, you might spot some dolphins or even orcas on your way (!!). Of course I dreamt about it, hopped, observed, but no chance. Anyway, our day was already so perfect...
Colville, lost in the north
I can't figure why I have such a strong souvenir of my stop in Colville. Maybe it was the picturesque, desert road that took me there. Maybe it was the serenity of the town. It's a very small seaside town, with only a few houses, a cafe and lots of sheep. There's not much to do, but the road to get there is lovely, and Colville itself is a great place for a picnic or a coffee before hitting the road back to the south.
The 309 Road, from east to west
The 309 Road is a classic in the Coromandel. It's a 22kms narrow road going from East to West lined with gorgeous gems to discover, such as a great pine forest, beautiful streams and waterfalls, a lovely local honey shop (with deliiicious New Zealand Manuka honey!), an impressive Kauri grove and an exquisite private garden. It will take you on a journey through dense nature with spectacular views... A journey you don't want to miss!
Where is the coromandel peninsula?
It's a little peninsula you can actually see from Auckland! A perfect destination to escape from the city -of course it's better to avoid weekends if you want avoid the crowds.
Auckland to Thames : 115 kms, +/- 1.5 hours drive
Auckland to Coromandel : 168 kms, +/- 2.5 hours drive