Things to See and Do on The Coromandel Peninsula

Spend some time travelling around “the Coromandel”

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel, NZYou may have already seen “The Coromandel” — its Cathedral Cove is a movie and social media star. But you should consider adding some time there to your New Zealand self-drive itinerary. Coromandel is simply beautiful with its mix of stunning beaches, virgin native forest and quirky seaside villages not to mention lots to see and do.

With historic Thames, the largest town on the peninsula, just an easy 2 hours drive from Auckland, and less from the Airport, Coromandel could be the place to spend your first or last few days in New Zealand. It is not only rich in scenery, Maori and mining history — evident on the west coast of the Peninsula — but also boasts world famous attractions and destinations like Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.

The Coromandel

“The Coromandel” — or Te Tara-o-te-Ika-a-Māui (meaning “the barb of Maui’s fish”, referring to demigod Māui’s fishing of the North Island, a giant stingray out of the ocean) — is a captivating region in New Zealand’s North Island. Its amazing scenery and beautiful bays have attracted visitors and Aucklanders looking to escape the city for decades. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the water sports on offer, plus fishing, cycling, and golfing against breathtaking backdrops.

The area also boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with art galleries, craft markets, and opportunities to savor local cuisine and wines. For relaxation, spa visits and hot springs are abundant, while seasonal events and festivals add a touch of local culture to your visit. Whether you seek adventure, nature, or relaxation, Coromandel’s beauty and activities make it an enticing destination.

A word about Coromandel roads

Travelling around Coromandel offers scenic drives with stunning views and access to various attractions. The road network here provides both ease of access and a chance to relish the picturesque landscapes. But please be aware that the region’s often windy roads were affected by historic levels of rainfall over the summer of 2022-23 and you may encounter delays related to damage. Just take your time; Coromandel is not a place to rush.

Coming from the south? Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Karangahake Gorge along the way, with its historic bridges and walking trails.

Coming from Auckland or the North? State Highway 25, known as the Coromandel Coastal Road, is a popular route that hugs the coastline, revealing breathtaking ocean vistas. You’ll encounter winding roads, lush forests, and occasional stops like Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.

The Seabird Coast

Seabirds on NZ's Seabird CoastIf you’re coming from Auckland, you should consider spending some time on The Seabird Coast on your way to the peninsula. The coast is a remarkable region celebrated for its wealth of avian life and breathtaking coastal landscapes.

This area offers an exceptional experience to visitors, primarily centered around bird watching. The Miranda Shorebird Centre, a well-known hub for bird enthusiasts, provides a front-row seat to the annual migration of waders, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.

The area’s coastal scenery is equally enchanting, with expansive coastlines, estuaries, and tidal flats that invite leisurely strolls and a deep appreciation for the natural environment. The Firth of Thames and the Hauraki Gulf provide stunning vistas and opportunities for relaxation.

Outdoor activities are abundant, ranging from bird watching to hiking and water-based adventures, allowing you to immerse yourself in the coastal beauty. The Seabird Coast is a truly unique destination that harmoniously blends natural beauty, wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation, and cultural insights, making it a place of wonder and serenity for those who cherish the beauty of the natural world.

Pukorokoro Shorebird Centre 

The Pukorokoro Shorebird Centre, is a must-see for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers and a great way to break your journey on the way to Coromandel from Auckland.  It serves as a vital hub for the observation and conservation of migratory shorebirds. This centre provides a unique opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring annual migration of waders, where these birds travel thousands of kilometres to reach this coastal haven.

Visitors get to explore a wealth of information and exhibits related to the diverse bird species that call this region home. The centre’s knowledgeable staff and volunteers offer insights into the ecology and behaviours of the birds, making it an educational and engaging experience.

The scenic location, with estuaries and tidal flats, provides an ideal setting for bird watching and appreciating the natural beauty of the area. The Pukorokoro Shorebird Centre is not only a place of natural wonder but also a vital player in the conservation efforts to protect these remarkable migratory birds, making it a must-visit destination for anyone passionate about avian life and the environment.

Thames & The Thames Museum

The historic town of Thames is your gateway to the Peninsula. It’s also a great place to get a sense of the history of the region. The town was briefly one of the largest cities in Aotearoa in the late 1860s after gold was discovered in 1867. But its population peaked in 1870 as the “gold rush” ended.

The Thames Museum, is a cultural institution that offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and heritage of the Coromandel region. Housed in a historic Carnegie library building, the museum itself is a testament to the town’s rich past. Visitors can explore a wide range of exhibits that showcase the local history, including artifacts, photographs, and documents that detail the early Māori and European settlement of the area.

The museum’s displays also cover aspects of daily life, commerce, and industry, painting a vivid picture of how the community has evolved over the years. With knowledgeable staff and volunteers, the museum offers informative guided tours, enriching the experience for visitors.

Driving Creek Railway 

Driving Creek Railway Travelling north on the stunning coastal road toward the equally historic town of Coromandel, you’ll find a captivating attraction that combines engineering prowess with natural beauty. The Driving Creek Railway was founded by the visionary artist and engineer, Barry Brickell, and stands as a testament to his creative spirit.

Visitors embark on a scenic journey through native forests and regenerating bushland. The narrow-gauge railway track winds its way up the steep Coromandel hillsides, offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and the Hauraki Gulf.

One of the railway’s highlights is the array of impressive features created by Barry Brickell, such as the iconic Double-Deck viaduct and the intriguing “Eyefull Tower.” Additionally, the pottery of the celebrated artist is on display at the site, adding a creative and artistic dimension to the experience.

Passengers on Driving Creek RailwayThis attraction is not just a railway but a living work of art and a tribute to conservation efforts. It showcases the importance of reforestation and sustainability, with the railway playing a key role in these efforts. The Driving Creek Railway offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, creative engineering, and environmental consciousness. It’s an experience that appeals to nature lovers, art enthusiasts, and anyone looking to appreciate the unique character of the Coromandel region.

(If train travel is a particular interest, New Zealand has much to offer you, with multiple railway attractions to enjoy on your tour.)


ColvilleColville beach, a quaint village further North of Coromandel township, offers a serene escape with a range of natural and cultural attractions. There’s plenty to see and do, including;

  1. Colville Farm Stay: Experience rural New Zealand life by staying at one of the local farm stays. You can engage in farm activities and enjoy the hospitality of friendly hosts.
  2. Mahamudra Centre for Universal Unity: A peaceful retreat offering meditation and yoga classes, providing a serene environment for spiritual exploration and relaxation.
  3. Port Jackson Beach: A short drive from Colville, this beach is known for its pristine, unspoiled beauty, ideal for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying stunning sunsets.
  4. Hiking and Nature Walks: Colville has numerous walking tracks that lead you through lush forests and reveal breathtaking views of the Coromandel’s natural beauty. The Coromandel Coastal Walkway is a notable option.
  5. Fishing: Engage in some fishing, both in the sea and in the nearby rivers. The area is popular for fishing enthusiasts.
  6. Bird Watching: Colville is a great spot for birdwatching, with opportunities to spot native and migratory birds in their natural habitat.

Whitianga houses and marina


More developed Whitianga, is a short drive across the peninsula from Colville. One of Coromandel’s bigger centres, this wonderful coastal town is known for its stunning beaches, marine adventures, and warm community vibe. Its idyllic coastal landscape features sandy shores, clear waters, and untouched greenery, making it a popular destination for beach enthusiasts.

The town offers a wide range of water activities, from kayaking to snorkelling, and is a gateway to boat tours to famous destinations like Cathedral Cove. The Lost Spring, a geothermal hot spring and day spa, provides a serene escape for relaxation

Boats in Cathedral CoveWhitianga attractions to consider for your itinerary:

  1. Buffalo Beach: This beautiful sandy beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the sun.
  2. Whitianga Wharf: A bustling area where you can book fishing charters, boat tours, or simply enjoy the coastal atmosphere. It’s also a great spot for fishing.
  3. Cathedral Cove by Boat: Take a boat tour to Cathedral Cove, a remarkable natural formation. It’s an iconic spot in the Coromandel region and one you might recognise from the Narnia movies.
  4. The Lost Spring: A geothermal hot spring and day spa, providing a relaxing experience in natural thermal pools surrounded by lush tropical gardens.
  5. Mercury Bay Estate Winery: Explore the local wine scene with a visit to this winery, where you can taste New Zealand wines and enjoy the beautiful setting.
  6. Art Galleries: Whitianga has several art galleries showcasing the work of local artists. It’s a great place to appreciate the region’s creative talents.

Places to Stay:

The Lost Spring, Whitianga, NZAs one of the most popular destinations on The Coromandel, Whitianga has a good range of accommodation options.

  • Resorts and Hotels: Whitianga offers a range of resorts and hotels, some with stunning ocean views, ideal for a comfortable and convenient stay.
  • Bed and Breakfasts: Cozy bed and breakfast accommodations are available, often hosted by friendly locals who provide a personalized experience.
  • Holiday Homes: Many holiday homes and vacation rentals are available, providing a home-away-from-home experience for families and groups.
  • Campgrounds: If you prefer a more outdoor experience, there are campgrounds in the area for those who enjoy camping.
  • Apartments: Various apartments and self-catering accommodations offer flexibility for longer stays.

Whitianga’s combination of natural beauty, marine adventures, cultural experiences, and relaxation options makes it a popular destination for a memorable vacation. Whether you’re seeking outdoor activities, art and culture, or simply unwinding by the coast, Whitianga has something for every type of traveller.


Whangamata BeachTravelling down the peninsula’s eastern coast you’ll find Whangamata, another charming coastal town. This popular vacation destination is renowned for its remarkable beaches and enjoyable outdoor activities.

Whangamata boasts expansive sandy shores, ideal for swimming and water sports, and it’s particularly popular for surfing. An energetic community and a range of dining options provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The town’s natural beauty is further highlighted by its proximity to native forests and the picturesque Wentworth Valley.

It’s an excellent destination for beach lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those seeking a laid-back coastal experience in the Coromandel region.
Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary (Donut Island)

Again, there’s lots to see and do here:

  1. Whangamata Beach: With its pristine white sandy shores, this beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, including surfing and paddleboarding.
  2. Williamson Park: A lovely park with walking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds, perfect for a family outing.
  3. Opoutere Beach: A short drive from Whangamata, this unspoiled beach is great for a tranquil escape and birdwatching.
  4. Wentworth Valley: Explore this lush native forest with walking tracks and the stunning Wentworth Falls.
  5. Whangamata Golf Club: If you’re a golf enthusiast, this course offers a picturesque setting for a round of golf.
  6. Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary (Donut Island): Take a guided kayak tour to this island sanctuary, home to a variety of birdlife and marine creatures.

Accommodation options in Whangamata

  • Resorts and Hotels: Whangamata offers a selection of resorts and hotels, many conveniently located near the beach.
  • Holiday Homes: There are numerous holiday homes and vacation rentals available, providing a comfortable and private experience for families and groups.
  • Motel Accommodations: Motels in the area offer a range of amenities and are often a cost-effective choice.
  • Bed and Breakfasts: Cozy bed and breakfast accommodations offer a warm and personalized experience hosted by friendly locals.
  • Camping and Campgrounds: If you prefer a more outdoor experience, there are campgrounds for those who enjoy camping.
  • Apartments: Various apartments and self-catering accommodations provide flexibility for longer stays.

Enjoying the many attractions of the Coromandel Peninsula


Whitianga Harbour

Hopefully, we’ve wetted your appetite for a visit to the wonderful Coromandel Pensinsula and doing “The Coromandel Loop” as part of your time in New Zealand. The region offers many attractions and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what is you can see on and around the peninsula.

Amongst our North Island self drive itineraries you’ll find a six day tour that is perfect for anyone flying in and out of Auckland looking for a week-long vacation or adding to a longer bespoke itinerary. We also have a 14 day NZ-wide self-drive tour that starts with a couple of days enjoying the attractions and destinations featured here.

Prefer that someone else handle the driving? We offer a number of small group tours that include time time enjoying the delights of this breathtaking place.

Got questions? Not sure how The Coromandel could fit in with your travel plans? Talk to one of our tour planning specialists about making the Coromandel part of your Aotearoa New Zealand experience.