The Must-Dos in The Coromandel
If the Coromandel has any reputation, it has to be that it is the beach paradise of New Zealand. Although the Coromandel does, indeed, feature some of the most stunning beaches in New Zealand, there’s a lot more to the huge peninsula giving us an exciting list of things to do in the Coromandel.
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.
Scroll down for the Coromandel must-dos, otherwise, more tips can be found in The Complete Guide to the Coromandel.
1. Hike to the Top of the Pinnacles
The Kauaeranga Kauri Trail also knows as the Pinnacles Walk, is the most popular day/overnight 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.
Location: Kauaeranga Valley Road, approximately 21.5km (13 miles) from Thames.
2. Witness the Iconic 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, white cliff formations and 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.
Location: Near Hahei, follow the many signs. 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.
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 after dark where you can see glowworms in the walkway leading up to the beach. Plus, the beach will be less busy than during the daytime. Find more 7 Free Natural Hot Springs in New Zealand.
Location: The main car park is along Pye Place, just south of Hahei.
4. Or Relax in a Luxurious Hot Pool
The Coromandel offers two more diverse hot pool experiences. The Lost Spring is a geothermal mineral hot pool complex complete with hot pools, a day spa and a restaurant. Alternatively, a good budget option is the Miranda Hot Pools with a large geothermal swimming pool, adult-only hot pool and children’s pool. See how these hot pools compare with others in the 10 Damn Relaxing Hot Pools in New Zealand. Plus, discover more experiences like this in the 7 Luxury Activities in the Coromandel.
Location: The Lost Spring – 121A Cook Drive, Whitianga. Miranda Hot Springs – RD 6, Miranda.
5. Discover the Old Gold Mining Tunnels of Karangahake Gorge
Keep the holiday budget to a minimum with some of the free activities in the Coromandel, such as the walks at Karangahake Gorge. The Karangahake Tunnel Loop Walk (45 minutes loop) takes you through a 1,100m (3,600ft) railway tunnel, while the Historic Walkway from the Eastern Portal Bridge follows an old railway track to the cascading Owharoa Falls. For more free activities, see the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in the Coromandel.
Location: Karangahake Domain Car Park is on State Highway 2 between Paeroa and Waihi.
6. See Rare Birds at 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: 283 East Coast Road, Miranda.
7. Take a Selfie with 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… See more attractions in the area in the 5 Best Things to Do in Paeroa.
Location: State Highway 2, Paeroa town centre.
8. Relax on New Chum 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 Chum 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.
Location: North of Whangapoua Village.
9. Take on the Coromandel Coastal Walkway
Another real hiking gem is the Coromandel Coastal Walkway, a 3-4-hour one-way adventure along the breathtaking coast of the northern Coromandel Peninsula. Transport to and from the trail is available with Coromandel Adventures, who teach you about the fascinating history, wildlife and geology of the Coromandel on your way to the hike. Check out Coromandel Adventures and their tours on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Pick-ups to the trail are available from Coromandel Town and Whitianga.
10. Kayak to Cathedral Cove
We’ve already talked about walking to this iconic attraction in the Coromandel. Alternatively, experience Cathedral Cove a little differently through a kayaking tour with Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours. Their classic Cathedral Cove tour takes you to explore the off-shore islands of Mercury Bay, paddle into caves and enjoy a barista-style coffee on Cathedral Cove beach. Learn more about the tour on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, we also recommend this tour in the 10 Romantic Activities in the Coromandel for Couples.
Location: Tours depart from Hahei Beach.
11. Or Cruise to Cathedral Cove
Or for a more relaxing way to enjoy the famous cove, join Cave Cruzer on their small-group tour of Cathedral Cove and the hidden gems found along the coast only accessible by boat. You’ll cruise under towering cliffs, by the picturesque Lonely Bay and to Cathedral Cove itself. A highlight is venturing into Cooks Blowhole and the Whale Cave to see some more of the amazing yet less-visited rock formations of the Coromandel. Find out more about Cave Cruzer on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Whitianga Wharf, Esplanade, Whitianga.
12. Spend an Afternoon at the Long Bay Reserve
The Long Bay 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. See more attractions nearby in the 5 Best Things to Do in Coromandel Town.
Location: Long Bay Road, Coromandel Town.
13. Do a Zipline Tour Through the Forest
Fly through the forest like majestic tui on a tour with Coromandel Zipline Tours. After a unique journey up the Driving Creek Railway, your tour begins with eight exciting ziplines covering 705m (2,300ft)! Your guides will lead the way on this eco-tour, sharing their knowledge on this land’s incredible journey from forestry, farming and gold mining to lush regenerating forest. What’s more, all profits from the tour go toward restoring and preserving the land. Find out more about Coromandel Zipline Tours on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 380 Driving Creek Road, Coromandel Town.
14. 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. Plus, for more activities nearby, check out the 5 Best Things to Do in Ngatea.
Location: Bratlie Place, Ngatea.
15. Walk the Thames Coastal Walkway
The 5km (3-mile) walkway is an easy one. In fact, the whole town of Thames can be explored on 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. The walkway is also part of the Hauraki Rail Trail – more on that below. For more ways to experience the town, check out the 7 Best Things to Do in Thames.
Location: Thames waterfront.
16. 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). Check out some of the highlights along the trail in the 6 Hauraki Rail Trail Towns You Can’t Miss.
Location: Thames, Waihi and Paeroa – see the link above for entry point locations.
17. 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. Plus, see more ways to keep yourself occupied nearby in the 5 Best Things to Do in Tairua & Pauanui.
Location: Tirinui Crescent, Tairua.
18. Take On the Wentworth Valley Waterfall Walk
The 3km (1.8-mile) track will only take you about 2 hours to 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. Again, check out the 5 Best Things to Do in Whangamata for more activity ideas.
Location: Wentworth Valley Road, 7km (4 miles) from Whangamata.
19. 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. Learn more about the beach and other experiences nearby in the 10 Best Things to Do in Waihi.
Location: Waihi Beach Road, just off State Highway 2, Waihi.
20. Try Your Luck on a Fishing Charter
The Coromandel has a huge fishing culture, which you can experience yourself on one of the many fishing charters available. For instance, join the kingfish experts Epic Adventures Fishing Charters for a day out on the water. Try your luck at hitting a Yellow-tail Kingfish where all the fishing gear is included. The tour starts from Whitianga, collecting baitfish in Mercury Bay before heading out to the deep water to catch some Kingfish! Find out more about Epic Adventures Fishing Charters on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 1153 Purangi Road, Ferry Landing or Whitianga Wharf, Esplanade, Whitianga.
21. Indulge in Fresh Coromandel Seafood
Speaking of fish, if there’s only one place you’re going to try seafood in New Zealand, make it in the Coromandel! The region produces some darn good oysters, green-lipped mussels and more. Head to The Coromandel Oyster Co. (1611 Manaia Road, Manaia) to try oysters fresh from the farm or dine on mussels at Blackbeard’s Smokehouse (18 Carina Way, Whitianga) that are harvested, marinated and smoked in the Coromandel. See more activities like this in the 7 Things to Do in the Coromandel for Foodies.
Location: See specific locations in the link above.
22. 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. Again more detail about the hike can be found in the 5 Best Things to Do in Pauanui.
Location: Pauanui Beach Road, Pauanui.