Experience the unexpected pleasure of a winter weekend spent road tripping around The Coromandel. Mild weather, beaches all to yourself and open, unhurried roads make The Coromandel an ideal spot to escape the crowds and recharge the batteries this winter.
Be sure to stop in Thames for retail therapy before heading up the famed Thames Coast Road. Replenish with excellent coffee and hearty wholefood lunch options at Sola Cafe and peruse Carsons Bookshop to find excellent reading material to accompany your winter weekend getaway. Stock up on supplies at the Re-store Eco Market, as well as The Green Grocer and visit the Thames Market (if you're passing through on a Saturday morning).
The Thames Coast Road is dotted with stunning beaches and scenic vistas all the way to Coromandel Town. An ideal rest stop is Waiomu Beach Cafe, a sunny spot where locals and visitors alike will always receive a warm welcome.
Coromandel Town is an easy place to slow down and spend a few hours exploring the eclectic shops and galleries in the village. Hauraki House Gallery at the north end of town features exhibitions from local artists and Wharf Road is a must-visit cafe for its decadent cakes and ambient, minimalist vibe.
For those seeking solitude and nature, hit the road north to Colville and beyond. In winter, there are no crowds and the beaches and winding coastal roads are breathtaking. You’ll feel a million miles from anywhere. The Colville General Store and Hereford and A Pickle cafe are two last stop shops for supplies, food and coffee before venturing to the northern parts of the peninsula.
Another option from Coromandel Town is to head east, taking in the serene golden beaches of Whangapoua, Matarangi and Kūaotunu. Kua Kawhe in Kuaotunu is open 7 days throughout winter for hearty lunchtime fare such as homemade slow-cooked pies and gourmet scrolls. You can even join the locals for ‘Hand Mades’, a stitch, knit and crochet group who meet for Sunday sessions. Stop for a stroll around the historic Kūaotunu Hall and learn a little of the area’s fascinating history from the golden era. Art and craft exhibitions are sometimes held here too. Don’t forget to call into Luke’s Kitchen, always worth the stop.
Only 20 minutes drive south, Whitianga (or ‘Whiti-city’ as it’s known to locals) has become a thriving town, year-round. The recently upgraded main street is complete with stunning street art murals, comfortable seating and spacious footpaths. Whitianga offers a sophisticated selection of shops including Tango’s Shoes, Agnes & Annabel and Stilo Collective, as well as beach-goer’s surf and streetwear favourites; Harry & Her and Blackjack Surf. Spend the night in luxury at Sovereign Pier On The Waterways, with stunning views and landscaped grounds. Be pampered at The Lost Spring and dine on fresh local cuisine in their licensed restaurant to complete an indulgent winter evening in the lap of luxury and comfort.
Head south for the second part of your Coromandel winter getaway, turning off at Whenuakite to explore Hot Water Beach. Don’t go past Hotties, or the most diverse crowd of people you will ever encounter, digging holes in the sand at low tide. Little Blue Kitchen in Hahei is worth a stop for coffee, bagels and burritos to fuel up, and a short drive to The Vessel at Cooks Beach for gastropub dishes and beer after an uninterrupted beach walk will bestow on you the best of Mercury Bay on a winter’s day.
Tairua offers a beguiling selection of speciality shops, including the fascinating Heaven and Earth Crystal gallery Haus Blank for chic gifts and homewares, and The Little Gallery for fine art, jewellery and sculpture. Tucked away on the edge of Mt Pauanui, Grand Mercure Puka Park is the ideal location for a secluded winter getaway, with its lodge-like feel and private villa style accommodation amidst the treetops. In the Paunui Village Centre, Outback Surf, Hello Friday and Armoire offer timeless and contemporary fashion and decor.
For the final leg of your Coromandel road trip, discover Whangamatā; a long-loved beach town that has kept pace with city fashion and cuisine, while retaining its laid-back small-town charm. Contain is the town’s stand-out boutique with its curated selection of designer fashion, jewellery and accessories, and Bella will inspire kitchen and homeware fans. Six Forty Six is a popular stop for coffee, cabinet food and a delicious brunch menu.
Next stop, Waihi is well worth a wander. Sustainable Pantry is an inspiring eco speciality store with pantry staples and delicious snacks and salads. A winter’s day driving through Karangahake Gorge is a pleasure in itself, enhanced only by a trip to Fall’s Retreat for gifts, gardening, and gastronomic indulgence.
With too many great cafes, sights and experiences to enjoy over one weekend, The Coromandel is well worth revisiting. Pop in to Paeroa next time for live music and great food at The Refinery and be sure and check out Earth Energies Sanctuary at Mangatarata for your next well-spent winter weekend.
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