Things You Can’t Miss in the Coromandel!
If the Coromandel has any reputation, it has to be that it is a beach paradise in New Zealand. Although the Coromandel does feature some of the most stunning beaches in New Zealand, there’s a lot more to the huge peninsula giving us a full list of Coromandel must-dos!
The heart of the Coromandel is thick rainforest-covered mountains, providing plenty of opportunities to lace up the hiking boots. The Pinnacles is the most popular hike, whereas the Wentworth Valley leads to a picture-perfect waterfall. Discover the remnants of a gold-mining age long forgotten in the Karangahake Gorge, or in the charming town of Thames.
Of course, you’ll always find yourself on the beach at some point, whether it’s to marvel at the white cliffs of Cathedral Cove or unwind in a hot pool you’ve dug yourself at Hot Water Beach.
1. Hike to the Top of the Pinnacles
The Kauaeranga Kauri Trail, also knows at Pinnacles Walk, is the most popular walk in the area. It offers stunning views of the whole Coromandel Peninsula, as well as some dramatic views of – you guessed it – some pinnacles. Note that the track can be done in one day but is best enjoyed in two. The Pinnacles Hut is very well maintained by the Department Of Conservation and offers a stunning sunrise view. For more walks, see 16 Awesome Hikes in The Coromandel.
2. Walk Down the Beach at Cathedral Cove
Known for being the background of a very famous scene in the movie The Chronicles Of Narnia, Cathedral Cove is one of the Coromandel’s most precious jewels. With white sand over white rock formations over turquoise waters, this is by far the biggest attraction of the peninsula. Don’t miss a chance to see for yourself what paradise actually looks like.
Note that the Cathedral Cove car park in Hahei is closed during the busy summer season (October 1 – April 30). Parking is available instead at the northern end of Hahei Beach, which adds an additional 20 minutes to the Cathedral Cove Walk.
Location: Whitianga / Hahei
3. Dig Yourself a Hot Pool at Hot Water Beach
The natural hot spring of Hot Water Beach is yet another example in New Zealand of the power of the earth beneath our feet. Located around a small rock formation on the beach is a pocket of hot water, which is exposed at low tide. Dig a trench to sit in the sand and regulate the temperature with the cold seawater. We recommend going at the low tide during the night where you can see glowworms in the walkway leading up to the beach. Plus, the beach will be less busy. Find more 7 Free Natural Hot Springs in New Zealand.
Location: Whitianga / Hahei
4. Explore the Karangahake Gorge
The whole Coromandel region is known for its mining history but the best place to embrace it is the Karangahake Gorge. Swingbridges, tunnels, waterfalls, railways, rusty mining equipment: it has it all. The gorge is well worth a day of your gap year: a must-do for sure!
5. Check Out the Miranda Shorebird Centre
The Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre is home to thousands of wrybill, a seabird unique to New Zealand. This true spectacle of nature is a must-see if you are spending a few days in the area. Nearby in the small town of Miranda, you can also find the great Miranda hot spring, a very cheap way to unwind from all this travel that you are doing.
Location: Kaiaua (near Miranda)
6. Take a Selfie Infront of the Giant L&P Bottle
The iconic New Zealand soft drink, L&P, is a sweet lemonade with and an extra kick of lemon. You’ve got to try it at least once. The “L” stands for “Lemon” and the “P” stands for “Paeroa”, the town that proudly invented the drink. Locals will tell you that the pure waters from the city source give the soft drink its unique taste. What’s more, it’s not the only BIG thing in New Zealand…
7. Relax on New Chums Beach
Voted one of New Zealand’s 10 most beautiful beaches, the golden sand beach is bathed by unbelievably clear water and sheltered by thick native forest. New Chums Beach, located in the Wainuiototo Bay, is very easy to access in only a short drive and an even shorter 1km (0.6-mile) walk from the parking area. Be aware that it gets a bit busy in the summer so try to plan your visit during the weekdays. For more awesome beaches see our 22 Stunning Beaches in New Zealand.
8. Spend an Afternoon at the Long Bay Reserve
The reserve is only a short drive north of Coromandel town and will give you that beach fix. With only one camping ground around, which will need to pass through to access the beach and parking, the reserve is often empty. The nearby Waiau Kauri Grove track is also worth a 30-minute exploration while you are in the area.
Location: Coromandel town
9. Visit the Ngatea Water Gardens
The small town of Ngatea is a great rest stop on your way to or from the cities of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. Treat yourself to a picnic in the small Ngatea Water Gardens where water fountains made out of recycled materials and a whole lot of humour make for a surprisingly fun exhibit. It will only set you back 30 to 45 minutes on your journey.
10. Walk the Thames Coastal Walkway
The 5km (3-mile) walkway is an easy one. In fact, the whole town of Thames can be explored by foot pretty quickly. Explore the area and learn more about its gold mining history and the fascinating life of the pioneers that populated the area.
11. Bike the Hauraki Rail Trail
With almost 82km (51 miles) of flat track, there is no excuse not to bike the Hauraki Rail Trail. It is often referenced as the “easiest bike trail in New Zealand”. The bike trail features unique landscapes and many of the points of interest in this list like the historic gold mining town of Thames and the gorgeous Karangahake Gorge. Plus, it will also take you through New Zealand’s longest tunnel at 1.1km (0.6 miles).
12. Hike to the Top of Mt Paku
Dominating the town of Tairua, Mt Paku is a great lookout point over the town and the Pacific Ocean. From there, you will truly get to see how rugged the Coromandel coast is. Tairua is also well known by the local surfers, as it offers challenging waves.
13. Take on the Wentworth Valley Waterfall Walk
The 3km (1.8-mile) track will only take you about 2 hours return. It slowly leads to the well-hidden waterfalls crossing two bridges. If you have a few extra minutes, explore the two abandoned mine shafts along the track. But the real treat of the walk is the Wentworth Waterfall itself. Dropping a whopping 20 metres (66 feet), the falls are surrounded by thick vegetation like it the forest was hiding it to keep it for itself.
14. Ride the Waves at Waihi Beach
Waihi Beach marks the southern end of the Coromandel coast. Surfers from across New Zealand know about Waihi Beach and its regular surf that is predictable enough for beginners and experienced alike. The beach also offers a great view of Mayor Island.
15. Climb Mt Pauanui
Because hiking is always free, lace up your hiking boots one last time and get yourself on the top of Mt Pauanui for more panoramic views of the peninsula. From there you will see the ocean and the dramatic coastline but also the Slipper, Shoe and Aldermen Islands dotting the horizon. The walk to the summit of Mt Pauanui starts from the southern end of Pauanui Beach and is approximately a 2-3 hour return hike.