The laid-back Coromandel Peninsula juts out east of Auckland separating the Hauraki Gulf and Pacific Ocean. It is known for white-sand beaches, lush native forests, and small towns with an alternative lifestyle that make it hard to believe New Zealand’s largest city is just two hours away.
The center of the peninsula is forested and mountainous—the Coromandel Range rises to almost 900 meters—and the two coasts contrast significantly. The east coast has pristine beaches and clear waters including Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, and others. The west coast is beautiful and less developed but generally more tidal and muddy.
Today, the Coromandel Peninsula gets a stream of city folks but remains a serene destination; the beaches are some of the best in New Zealand and the relaxed pace can’t be beat.
Best of the Coromandel Peninsula
One of the Coromandel Peninsula’s most picturesque spots is Cathedral Cove located on the east coast. This natural limestone archway can only be reached on foot or by boat; Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay also are nearby.
Hot Water Beach
Located between Tairua and Whitianga on the east coast, Hot Water Beach morphs into hot springs within two hours on either side of low tide. Visitors will find hot water filtering up through the sand due to geothermal activity just below the surface.
Beach Towns: Thames, Coromandel, Whitianga, and Whangamata
Traveling hippies were drawn to Coromandel in the 1970’s and have left their mark (or haven’t left at all). Thames is the gateway to the peninsula and the largest population center on the west coast. The town of Coromandel is located at the northern end of the peninsula. Whitianga and Whangamata are popular destinations on the east coast that get busy during the summer season. The entire peninsula is known for excellent seafood.
The Coromandel Peninsula is a prime cycling destination and doesn’t get as much attention as places on the South Island. The coastal roads are scenic and in good condition; for traffic-free cycling try the Whitianga Loop (39 km) on the east side of the peninsula.
The beaches may be the most popular activity on the Coromandel but the hiking trails are some of the best on the North Island. For shorter walks, Cathedral Cove Walkway (2.5 km) and the Muriwai Walk (6 km) offer excellent introductions to the peninsula’s unique landscapes. For a longer hike, try the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail (Pinnacles Track) for views across the Coromandel. Many hikers stay at Pinnacles Hut operated by the DOC.