Northern Coromandel Excursion - 1 day
Spend a day exploring the remote Coromandel Coastal Walkway with experienced guides from Coromandel Adventures and Coromandel Discovery, both offering personalised day trips along rugged coastline to remarkable bays in this secluded part of the region. A good option is to stay overnight in Coromandel Town.
Add to the enjoyment of this itinerary by sailing to Coromandel Town on the 360 Discovery Scenic Ferry, departing from Pier 4, downtown Auckland. A 2-hour scenic voyage over the Hauraki Gulf with transfer to the Coromandel Town Centre is the beginning of a relaxing short break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
While in Coromandel Town you might also enjoy a visit to Driving Creek Railway, The Waterworks or the 309 road with the Kauri Grove and Falls. Grab a bite to eat at The Mussel Kitchen, Coromandel Oyster Company or Peppertree Restaurant.
Southern Coromandel Excursion - 1-2 days
The southern Coromandel is home to the heritage of Hauraki, rich in gold mining relics, stunning gorge walks and intriguing rural towns. Explore the reclaimed, rich dairy lands of the Hauraki Plains which border the Firth of Thames, and then onto the rugged Karangahake and Kaimai/Coromandel ranges before reaching the Golden Valley farmlands in the east and the Pacific Ocean at Whiritoa. There is lots to discover in the Karangahake Gorge, self-guided or with a local tour operator, and by bike on the Hauraki Rail Trail. Bullswool Farm and Nature Park for an up close rural encounter, and great refreshment options at Ohinemuri Winery, The Falls Retreat and The Waikino Station Cafe.
Take a ride from Waikino to Waihi on the Goldfields Railway and experience modern mining techniques on a tour deep into the Martha Mine. The Waihi Gold Discovery Centre is right across the road, bringing to life the tales of days gone by with an interactive experience. Or take time out to relax on one of the many bays and beaches this coast is known for.
Auckland getaway - 3-4 days
As you leave the bustling metropolis heading south, your getaway starts as soon as you turn off SH2 and enter The Coromandel. Stop off at the Blueberry Orchard in Ngatea or Piako Pete's for some delicious local smoked fish and homegrown fare for your road trip. First stop the old mining town of Thames, famous in the gold mining era and home to heritage attractions. The coastal road north up the eastern edge of the Hauraki Gulf is lined with pohutukawa trees, and a short detour to the Square Kauri on the Tapu-Coroglen Road is a worthwhile diversion. The view from Kereta Hill as you descend to Coromandel Town merits a photo stop. A two-night stay in this northern-most town gives you plenty of time to walk the Coromandel Coastal Walkway, head out on the sheltered harbour for a spot of Mussel Barge fishing, visit the kauri grove on the 309 Road and the untouched splendour of New Chum Beach.
Heading east over the Coromandel Ranges, the white sand surf beaches of the eastern seaboard provide plenty of excuses to stop and the small holiday towns have accommodation for all comers. The elevated viewpoint and absence of city lights allow visitors to the observatory at Stargazers an unfiltered view of the night sky and the galactic core in the winter months. Whitianga is the largest town, kick off point for a boat trip to explore the sheltered Mercury Bay and the Te-Whanganui-a-Hei marine reserve off Cathedral Cove. The beaches along the east coast are favourites for fishing, surfing and swimming, so take a surf or SUP lesson on the legendary left-hand break at Whangamata, or body surf in the gentle long waves at Pauanui.
But it's not all about the beach. Waihi is the region's heart of gold, and a visit to the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre will give you an experience of yesteryear and a taste of the modern gold story deep in the bowels of the Martha Mine. Heading east through the Karangahake Gorge, there are many walks to discover gold relics, or you can cycle a section of the Hauraki Rail Trail. A flat grade one trail, this is sightseeing on a bike, with a relaxed pace and diverse landscapes along the way. The trail back to Auckland heads over the Hauraki Plains, and a return route via the Seabird Coast. A swim at the Miranda Hot Pools is a fitting end to a short break from the city.
Rotorua extension - 2 days
Heading north, in just 90 minutes you will be in Paeroa, home of New Zealand's iconic L&P soft drink and self-proclaimed "antique capital". You will also experience the gold heritage of the region as you head east through the stunning Karangahake Gorge , self-guided or with a local tour operator, and by bike on the Hauraki Rail Trail. Bullswool Farm and Nature Park for an up close rural encounter, and great refreshment options at Ohinemuri Winery, The Falls Retreat and The Waikino Station Cafe.
The gorge opens out in the old mining town of Waihi, and the road heads north past charming white sand surf beaches to the local's favourite, Whangamata. An outdoor adventure playground, and holiday resort with walks to a waterfall, around the sheltered harbour and accessible surf and SUP options. Plenty of choice for an overnight stop and a good variety of restaurants in the long main street.
Day two, the road continues north through Tairua to Whenuakite where you turn off the main road to visit two if the Coromandel's icons...Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. Remember, you need low tide to access the hot water for your own spa pool on the Pacific, but the walk to the cove can be accomplished at any tide. We would recommend seeing this coast from the water, either with Cathedral Cove Kayaks or the Hahei Explorer. If you get the right tide, the Explorer will take you right into the Blowhole, an exhilarating experience.
You will find great boutique lodging in Hahei, and two of the peninsula's best campgrounds with a wide range of facilities from camp sites, to backpacker accommodation and upmarket villas with sea views.
Hamilton diversion - 2 days
Heading east over the Hauraki Plains, the old mining town of Thames to base yourself and become attuned to the laid back tempo of rural town life. With the architecture and grandeur of the gold glory days, and the opportunity to visit the many heritage sites in the town, you can have the feeling of life in days gone by when Thames was a thronging hub of hope and enterprise. With all the modern benefits of good accommodation, quirky shopping, broadband and the glorious gulf coast road stretching north. Saturday morning is Thames market, on the main street, and the wharf has a fresh selection of fish from the catch of the day.
The Pohutukawa-fringed coast road meanders north around rocky bays and points with small coastal villages providing refreshment stops along the way. The backdrop fo the rugged Coromandel Range is for the more energetic: the Kauaueranga Valley is cross-crossed with hiking and shorter walking tracks, kauri dams, gushing streams and dense regenerating forest.