Free (and Cheap) Activities on the Coromandel Peninsula
We know that any ways to cut the costs while travelling New Zealand are welcome. Luckily, the Coromandel Peninsula is full of natural and historical attractions that are either free or have a cheap admission fee. From picture-perfect waterfalls to breathtaking beaches, saying there is enough to see is an understatement. In between, check out historic mining tunnels, visit a New Zealand farm and more, all for an irresistibly affordable fee. We go through some of the highlights in this list of free and cheap things to do in the Coromandel!
For more budget tips, check out The Guide to the Coromandel on a Budget.
1. Check Out Cathedral Cove – FREE
We know it’s on your bucket list anyway, so let’s get started with Cathedral Cove and how to visit it for free. The stunning white cliffs and coastal arches are a picture-perfect reason to take a look, which is accessible on a free walk at the northern end of Hahei Beach. Starting from the end of Grange Road, the walk is an easy 1h30min return walk to Cathedral Cove. Note that the car park here is closed during summer (1 October to 30 April), so you will need to park at the entrance of Hahei village instead and walk along Hahei Beach to get to the walk.
Location: Grange Road, Hahei.
2. Visit Waiau Falls and the Kauri Grove – FREE
Moving onto some free things to do in the Coromandel that you might not have heard of, we recommend discovering some of the Coromandel’s amazing kauri forests. There are a few excellent sights along the 309 Road between Coromandel Town and Whitianga, Waiau Falls and the Kauri Grove Lookout Walk. 7km (4 miles) along the 309 Road from Coromandel Town is a super short walk to the picturesque swimming hole, Waiau Falls. A further 1km (0.6 miles) up the road is the Kauri Grove Lookout Walk, a 30-minute return stroll to a magnificent stand of mature kauri trees.
Location: The 309 Road between Coromandel Town and Whitianga.
3. See the Birds at the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre – FREE/CHEAP
On your way to the Coromandel, either on your way in or out from Auckland, don’t miss the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre. At the Shorebird Centre, learn about the rare wading and shorebirds that live here. Then head to the Robert Finlay Reserve to see the birds for yourself, particularly thousands of wrybill which are unique to New Zealand. Entry to the Shorebird Centre and Reserve is free but a donation is welcome to fund conservation efforts.
Location: 283 East Coast Road, Miranda.
4. Dig Your Own Hot Pool at Hot Water Beach – FREE/CHEAP
Also on your must-do list for the Coromandel has to be Hot Water Beach. While it’s free to visit the beach and dig your own hot pool in the sand at low tide, we recommend doing this activity with a spade. And while most of us don’t travel with a spade, you’ll need to hire one from either the local store or the Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park, costing around NZ$5. Find the digging spot in front of the rocky outcrop on the beach, only accessible at low tide.
Location: The main car park is along Pye Place, just south of Hahei.
5. Visit the Mercury Bay Museum – CHEAP
Don’t worry, you can still get your fix of small-town New Zealand museums in the Coromandel! The Mercury Bay Museum can be found in Whitianga, where you can learn about the early Maori navigator, Kupe, see Maori artefacts, learn about kauri timber and gum and much more. Admission is only around NZ$5 for adults and free for children. –
Location: 11a The Esplanade, Whitianga.
6. Feed the Animals at Whiti Farm Park – CHEAP
Families and animal-lovers alike love spending a couple of hours at the Whiti Farm Park in Whitianga. Meet and hand-feed around 40 different species of farm animals, as well as enjoy a short bushwalk, and check out the farm machinery, train, fire engine and more. Admission is only around NZ$10 for adults and around NZ$7 for children. Plus, bring an extra couple of dollars for bags of animal feed. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in the Coromandel with Kids.
Location: 2414 Tairua Whitianga Road, approximately a 10-minute drive south of Whitianga.
7. Delve Underground at the Thames Goldmine Experience – CHEAP
The Coromandel has a rich gold mining history, where you’ll have many opportunities to see the evidence of – especially in the Karangahake Gorge and it walks, which is a bonus free thing to do in the Coromandel. But we digress, the Thames Goldmine Experience is a fun, educational and cheap activity costing only around NZ$15 per adult and NZ$5 for kids to take a tour of an underground mine. You can also try your luck at gold panning!
Location: Corner of Moanataiari Road and State Highway 25, Thames.
8. Camp, See a Waterfall and Some Mine Shafts in the Wentworth Valley – FREE
While the town of Whangamata might be more famous for its sweeping 4,000m- (13,000ft-) long beach, but a real hidden gem of the area is the Wentworth Valley. The 2h30mins return Wentworth Falls Track takes you to a fantastic view of the falls and its two tiers of drops, each about 20m (70ft) high. There’s also the Mines Walk, a 30-minute one-way walk through native forest to see two mine shafts. A Department of Conservation campsite is also in the vicinity, should you want to stay longer. Check out more walks in the 16 Awesome Hikes in The Coromandel.
Location: Wentworth Valley Road, Whangamata.
9. Soak in the Miranda Hot Springs – CHEAP
Relax and unwind in the natural mineral hot pools of the Miranda Hot Springs. One of the cheapest hot pool complexes in the Coromandel at around NZ$15 admission for adults, the pools include a large geothermal swimming pool, a children’s pool and an adult-only sauna pool. Temperatures of the pools range from 36°C to 41°C (97-106°F), while the kiddies pool is a little cooler. There’s also a jumping pillow, playground and games room for more ways to keep kids entertained.
Location: Front Miranda Road, Miranda.
10. Do Some Beach-hopping – FREE
Finally, a must when road tripping around the Coromandel is some beach-hopping. There is no lack of beaches in the Coromandel so just take your pick from the 10 Coromandel Beaches You Can’t Miss. New Chum Beach is an adventure to get to and is arguably one of the most picturesque beaches in the Coromandel. Pauanui Beach is a local favourite with a fantastic lookout point from the Pauanui Trig Track. And, Whangamata Beach is a good option for hiring kayaks, surfboards and SUP boards.
More About the Coromandel on a Budget
- 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in The Coromandel
- 10 Best Budget Accommodation in the Coromandel
- Coromandel – Guide for Backpackers
- The Complete Travel Guide to the Coromandel
That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Coromandel. For more free stuff, check out the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.