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25 FUN Things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

25 FUN Things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

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The Coromandel Peninsula is easily one of the most beautiful destinations in all of New Zealand. Home to white-sand beaches, dense native forest, and scenic mountain ranges – it’s no wonder this is one of the most popular vacation spots on the North Island for both Kiwis and overseas visitors. 

I’m sure you’re familiar with Cathedral Cove, as featured in The Chronicles of Narnia movies, and Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own natural hot pool. Well, both of these iconic spots are located on the Coromandel Peninsula! There’s also an array of incredible activities in this gorgeous coastal region like ziplining, hiking, and even kayaking to a remote island. 

Having lived in Auckland, I’ve visited the Coromandel Peninsula many times. It quickly became one of my favorite day trips from Auckland and a great way to escape the city!

In this blog, I detail everything you need to know about the Coromandel Peninsula, as well as list 25 awesome things to do in this stunning part of New Zealand. 

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here are my absolute favorite things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula!

  1. Take a thrilling speed boat ride to Cathedral Cove!
  2. Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach.
  3. Hike the Coromandel Coastal Walkway for some epic views.
  4. Kayak to a sacred Maori island, a tour is the only way to see it!
  5. Go on a glass-bottom boat tour in a marine reserve!

About the Coromandel Peninsula

A lady on a viewing platform at the start of the Cathedral Cove Walk on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
View over the Coromandel from the start of the Cathedral Cove Track!

The Coromandel Peninsula lies within the Waikato Region on the North Island. It extends 85 kilometers/53 miles in length from Waihi Beach to the peninsula’s northern end. 

The most significant towns on the Coromandel Peninsula include Whitianga and Coromandel, but there are also some smaller, equally excellent towns like Whangamata, Hahei, Tairua, Pauanui, and Waihi. 

The area is well-connected and easy to access being just a 90-minute drive to the major cities of Auckland, Hamilton, and Rotorua. Most tourists come here from Auckland – the most popular option is to drive, but you can take a short 30-minute flight from Auckland Airport to Whitianga Airport. 

The Coromandel Peninsula enjoys a warm climate for most of the year. This is one of the sunniest parts of New Zealand. During the summer, temperatures range between 24 Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) and 31 Celsius (87 Fahrenheit). So, as you can imagine, this is the busiest time to visit. 

While in the winter, temperatures remain mild and range from 12 Celsius (53 Fahrenheit) to 14 Celsius (57 Fahrenheit). Annual rainfall here is 1,850 mm, with most of the rain falling in the winter months (June to August). But, this is still a great place to spend a winter in New Zealand as the temperatures are much warmer than the South Island.

Overall, The Coromandel is a fantastic place to visit and one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

Related Read: Coming from Auckland? Check out the best hotels in Auckland and how to rent a car!

25 Things to do in the Coromandel

1. Pinnacles Track 

The Pinnacles Lookout, New Zealand
If you stay at the Pinnacles Hut you can get this view at sunrise!

The Pinnacles Walk is a very popular day and overnight hike on the Coromandel Peninsula and one of the best hikes on the North Island. The trail begins at Kauaeranga Valley Road End, just 9 kilometers from the visitors center. The track is 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) each way to the summit via the Webb Creek Track.

Although rather short, the trail involves some scrambling and the use of ladders. Because of this, it takes at least 3 hours each way. Along the way, you’ll pass the Pinnacles Hut (1 kilometer from the summit). If you have an advanced booking you can spend the night here and enjoy the Pinnacles view the next morning at sunrise from the summit. At the top, the views are spectacular!

If you don’t have a booking at the hut, you’ll need to hike back down that day.

On the way down you have the option of going back the way you came (the shortest option) or taking the slightly longer trail to your left past the Billy Goat Campsite. I always take the second option simply because the views are different. Not to mention, if you didn’t get a spot at the hut you can always camp here if you’re craving an overnight adventure.

If you are planning on staying at either the Pinnacles Hut or the Billy Goat Campsite, be sure to reserve them in advance! The Pinnacles Hut is $25 NZD per night and camping at Billy Goat is $6 NZD per night.

2. Visit Cathedral Cove

A couple take a photo in Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Cathedral Cove is so beautiful!

Cathedral Cove is one of the most famous sights in the Coromandel, and its fame is mainly due to it being featured in The Chronicles of Narnia movies. And in fact, would you believe about 500,000 tourists visit this attraction every year!?

There are a few different ways to reach Cathedral Cove (since you can’t drive there). You can walk, kayak, or hop on a boat tour. 

Walk to Cathedral Cove:

The walking trail into the Cove from the Grange Road parking lot is 3.2 km (2 miles) one-way. However, it’s important to note that this parking lot is currently only open between May 1st and September 30th, and it costs $15 NZD to park for 4 hours. 

The walk itself is easy, and it’s mostly flat and well-paved besides a steep hill at the halfway point. It will take most people between an hour and 90 minutes without stopping. This is an incredibly scenic walk, and there are several viewpoints dotted along the track, as well as Stingray Bay and Gemstone Bay, where you can stop off for a swim and take some photos. 

Alternative options include hopping on a shuttle from the nearest town Hahei (this is what most tourists do) which provides free parking and is $7 for the shuttle. You can also park at the Lees Road parking lot, which has 200 spaces and costs $10 per vehicle. The walk to Cathedral Cove from Lees Road car park is on a different trail and is less scenic than the one I have described above.  

Important info- The walk to Cathedral Cove is currently closed due to severe weather. Please check with the Department of Conservation before attempting this! You can still visit the cove by boat or kayak.

Kayak to Cathedral Cove:

One of the most unique ways (and my personal favorite option) is to join this 3-hour kayaking tour to Cathedral Cove. It is the only kayaking company that can land at Cathedral Cove, so it’s a very popular option with tourists. 

On the way to the Cove, you will get the chance to explore sea caves and see wildlife like dolphins and even whales if you’re lucky. The best thing about this tour is that you will be served hot drinks and cookies at Cathedral Cove when you land! You’ll be led by a local guide who knows the area impressively well, so you and your group of 8 will learn a ton and stay safe the entire journey. This tour is $169 NZD and can be booked in advance here!

Boat to Cathedral Cove:

And finally, you can catch a boat to Cathedral Cove from Hahei Beach. While hanging out on the beach at Cathedral Cove is certainly beautiful, you can have a thrilling experience by taking a jet boat ride to the Cove! On this short but sweet tour, you’ll reach speeds up to 80 kph (55 mph), experience tight turns and tricks, and feel your heart racing as you make your way to Cathedral Cove in a jet boat.

While you won’t have a ton of time to explore the cove, it’s a beautiful area to see and a super fun activity. This speed boat tour is $120 NZD and can be booked in advance here!

If you’re short on time or don’t have your own transportation, you can take a full-day tour from Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula. This hits the highlights of the peninsula, such as Cathedral Cove and it even includes a stop at the famed Hot Water Beach. You won’t want to skip out on this spot, it’s one of my favorite places on the North Island! This tour includes transportation, your guide, and snacks, so be sure to bring some cash for lunch or souvenirs.

You can book this full-day tour in advance for $250 NZD per person.

There is also a water taxi that will simply transport you from Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove. It’s a fast and cheap way to reach the Cove and costs approximately $80 NZD return per adult.

Visiting Cathedral Cove is a must-do activity on the Coromandel Peninsula!

3. Taste wine at Mercury Bay Estate – Winery & Restaurant

Tasting wine at Mercury Bay Estate - Winery & Restaurant
Tasting wine at Mercury Bay Estate – Winery & Restaurant

This boutique winery in Cooks Beach is the ideal place to relax for wine lovers visiting the Coromandel Peninsula. 

At Mercury Bay Estate they specialize in Pinot Noir grapes. Its location is perfectly suited to wine growing thanks to its sunny north-facing slopes. 

You can try their wines and the views over Mercury Bay at the cellar door on-site. They have a selection of wines to taste including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, the delicious Lola Sparkling Rose, and many more! In the summer months, local musicians take to the stage on the deck here.

Thanks to owner Veronica’s Italian heritage, the food experience has a heavy Italian influence. The yummy menu items include antipasto platters, salads, and the best pizza in the Coromandel (woodfired, of course)! Relax and take in the views at a table under the vine-covered pergola or on the deck on a fine day. 

Opening Hours at Mercury Bay Winery vary by season, so it’s worth looking into before you go. It’s best if you make reservations in advance, as this winery is quite popular and can fill up on a goregous summer day!

4. Hot Water Beach 

Bailey and her mum relax at Hot Water Beach
Me and my mum having a drink at Hot Water Beach!

Easily one of the most popular and unique Coromandel activities is to dig your own hot pool at the aptly named Hot Water Beach, located 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Hahei. 

It’s quite a phenomenon and is made possible by the thermal water which bubbles below the sand’s surface! All you have to do is dig in the sand in the right spot and the water that comes up is steaming hot – how cool!

Hot Water Beach attracts hundreds of people every day just before low tide. It’s best to visit Hot Water Beach either two hours before or two hours after low tide. This is the only time when you can access the hot water areas (during high tide, the hot water vents are covered by the ocean).

You can bring your own spade with you or rent one for a small fee at the small store here. It can be quite hard to find the best spot to dig, especially if you’re one of the first people here. The beach is over 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) in length, so it’s important to know where to go! 

From the parking lot, walk onto the beach and, turn left, continue walking until the beach narrows – you will notice at this point a large rock in the ocean. Stand facing the rock, and you have found the best spot to start digging. 

If you don’t fancy driving to Hot Water Beach, you can book a boat tour from Aucklandwhich includes a 2-hour stop at Hot Water Beach as well as a 2-hour stop at Cathedral Cove. Your guide can help you find the perfect spot, so it makes the whole experience easier. This particular tour is 12 hours in duration and costs $250 NZD per adult. This tour does have limited availability, so I recommend booking it in advance!

5. Mt Paku Summit 

A lady relaxes on Mt Paku Summit 
Don’t forget to take a breath and enjoy the view!

A fantastic short hike option in the Coromandel is the Mt Paku Summit hike, a 1.1 km (0.7 mi) out-and-back trail that will take most people under 30 minutes to complete. The trail starts from the Memorial Reserve car park on Paku Drive, near Tairua. If you have a rental car (I like using Discover Cars), reaching this hike will be a breeze.

What’s cool about this hike is that Mt Paku is actually a dormant volcano that was formed 7 million years ago! Telling your friends back home you’ve walked up a volcano is sure to give you major kudos points. 

The trail to the summit, although steep, is quite easy and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. There are handrails and steps at the steep points along the trail to help you along. 

Along the way, you will spot many varieties of native trees as well as native birds like tuis and bellbirds. But the view from the top of Tairua Harbour as well as Tairua town and Pauanui town is what really makes this hike worthwhile. It’s exceptional on a fine day, with the sparkling ocean and numerous small offshore islands making for an epic photo opportunity! 

 6. Coromandel Coastal Walkway

Views on the Coromandel Coastal Track on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Exploring the coast is a must!

One of the most scenic walks in the Coromandel is the 10 km (one-way) Coromandel Coastal Walkway which takes in views of Mount Moehau and across the Hauraki Gulf. 

The trail will take most people about 3.5 hours to complete, each way that is. The lengthy trail takes you between the scenic Fletcher Bay and Stony Bay and is rated as easy (despite the long distance!). Although it’s worth noting there is a particularly steep section near Poley Bay. 

This trail is quite an important part of the area’s history and was formed by early pioneers. Along the way, you will pass through rolling farmland, and coastal forest as well as many scenic viewpoints, including views of Great Barrier Island and the Pinnacles. 

You can book a guided tour of the Coastal Walkway. This full-day tour is 9.5 hours in duration and includes an experienced guide. The best part is that you just need to walk one way, and your private transfer will pick you up at the other end. You should have a moderate level of fitness, but because the trail is relatively easy, it’s doable for most active hikers! The tour departs from Colville, which is about as far north as you can drive before the road turns to gravel.

You can book this hiking tour in advance for $175 NZD.

If you’re an experienced cyclist, there is a Grade 5, 8 km biking trail here which is steep and challenging. This trail starts at Stony Bay Campsite and will take about 3 hours each way. The ride starts with quite an easy ride across farmland before steeply climbing a clay track (which can be slippery in wet weather). The trail meets with the walking trail near Poley Bay, and it’s about 40 minutes on this trail to Fletcher Bay.  

Important info- The middle part of the Coromandel Coastal Walkway is closed due to severe weather damage and landslides. You can still hike portions of the track, but keep an eye on the DOC website for updates.

Related Read: If you’re looking for more hiking adventures in New Zealand, check out my guide to the best hikes on the South Island!

7. Shakespeare Cliff Lookout 

Shakespear Cliff Lookout, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
I never get sick of those Coromandel views!

One of the best places to visit on the North Island for epic views is the Shakespeare Cliff Lookout. It’s next to Lonely Bay and a 35-minute drive from Whitianga town. The views of Cooks Bay, Lonely Bay, and the surrounding islands from here are nothing short of breathtaking, especially on a sunny day. 

A steep, narrow gravel road takes you to the small parking lot where you can walk a short 2 minutes to the viewing platform. It’s worth noting that this is a popular viewpoint, and the small parking lot tends to get full pretty early on weekends and during school holidays. 

You can also walk here from Flaxmill Bay, which will take 20 to 25 minutes and, although steep, is an easy hike and suitable for the whole family. 

8. Go ziplining 

A person ziplines with Coromandel Zipline Tours
How beautiful are the views from up here! Photo credit: Coromandel Zipline Tours

Soar through the forests on an exhilarating ziplining tour with Coromandel Zipline Tours. Their park has access to eight ziplines and their longest is 200 meters (656 feet)! As you speed through the treetops, keep your eyes peeled for the fantastic views of native forests and fast-moving streams. 

A pretty cool way to get to the start of the ziplines is via a short (18-minute) mountain railway ride known as the Driving Creek Railway Explorer (more on that below)!

This is one of the top ziplining tours in NZ and it’s located in Driving Creek, a 5-minute drive from Coromandel town. It’s in the heart of the Peninsula, which was once a rich gold mining area as well as a kauri logging farm. Today, it is a lush native forest thanks to a regeneration program that saw hundreds of kauri trees planted. The forest here is also a habitat for the elusive kiwi. 

All safety equipment is included, and your experienced guide will be on hand to show you the ropes (literally) along the course. This zipline excursion is 2.5 hours in length and costs $137 NZD per person. 

9. Driving Creek Railway Explorer 

Driving Creek Railway Explorer train passes along the track
Photo credit: Driving Creek Railway
Views from the Driving Creek Railway Explorer 
Photo credit: Driving Creek Railway Explorer 

If you’re not brave enough for the zipline, you can still book the Driving Creek Railway Explorer train separately. On the journey to EyeFull Tower, at the top, your driver will tell you about the history of the area as well as the history behind this unique mountain train. 

Pass through native forests and tunnels, over viaducts, and keep your eyes peeled for unique pottery sculptures dotted along the way! In fact, pottery had an important role in the creation of Driving Creek because the owner of the land was a famed potter, Barry Brickell. 

Kids particularly love this fun tour, and because the train is covered, it’s a great rainy-day activity in the Coromandel too! The tour is over an hour long and costs just $39 NZD for adults, $19 NZD for children, and they have some special family deals too.

10. Rapaura Watergardens 

Rapaura Water gardens 
Photo credit: Rapaura Watergardens 

Included in many travel guides, the popular Rapuara Watergardens is 64 acres of idyllic bushland in the heart of the Coromandel Forest Park. Home to an abundant population of birds like the fantail, tui, and silver eye, there are also several walking paths here, including one that takes you to a magnificent cascading waterfall!

Depending on the season, there’s a variety of exotic flowers in bloom. They are just so colorful, particularly in the summer. There’s also lots of unique artwork dotted throughout the gardens.

It’s a private estate owned by Fritz and Josephine Loennig, who purchased this lot of land over 50 years ago, and thanks to their dedication to maintaining the land, it attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. In fact, it was recently recognized as a ‘garden of distinction’ by the Canterbury Horticultural Society. 

Rapuara Watergardens is located on Tapu – Coroglen Road in the Tapu Valley. Entrance costs from $15 NZD per adult and $5 per child and they operate by an honesty box.

11. Kauri Block Walk 

This 1.6 km (1 mile) easy walk along the Coromandel Peninsula takes you to a historic Maori settlement (also known as a Pa). This is the highest point on the track and offers incredible 360-degree views of the Coromandel Ranges, Coromandel town, and some offshore islands. Nature lovers will enjoy this track because it’s lined with native plants and bushes. 

The Kauri Block Walk will take just 1.5 hours to complete and is suitable for the whole family. The trailhead starts from the top of Harbour View Road in Coromandel. Alternatively, you can start the track from Wharf Road in Coromandel town (the start of the track is well signposted at both points). 

If you’re a beginner hiker or looking for a great family-friendly activity, the Kauri Block Walk is a fun thing to do on the Coromandel Peninsula!

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12. Visit The Lost Spring

One of the pools at the The Lost Spring Thermal Pools and Day Spa on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
One of the hot springs! Photo credit: The Lost Spring Thermal Pools and Day Spa

The Lost Spring in Whitianga is the ideal spot to unwind after a busy day of exploring the Coromandel. These geothermal pools are super-unique and range in temperature from 32°C (89.6 Fahrenheit) to 41°C (105.8 Fahrenheit). 

The pools are also quite shallow (no higher than chest height), which is great for those who don’t want to be fully submerged in hot water. The setting of these pools is just beautiful, surrounded by native bush and the sound of birdsong. This is one of the most peaceful experiences in New Zealand. 

To get the most out of this relaxing experience, you can book a spa treatment at their treetop day spa, which offers treatments like the South Pacific Serenity, a full body massage with pure Fiji oil, and a foot pamper. Pure bliss!

There’s also an awesome restaurant on-site, which is set in a historic schoolhouse and offers incredible views over the lagoon and waterfalls. The restaurant books up quickly, so it’s advisable to book in advance. You can also have some snacks delivered to you poolside or, even better, served to you while you’re in the water (Bali style!).

The Lost Spring is located on Cook Drive in Whitianga. 4 hours in the geothermal pools cost $100 NZD, while 2 hours cost $60 NZD.

Related Read: Another one of my favorite places to visit on the North Island is Napier. They have a fantastic wine scene, so consider visiting some of Napier’s amazing wineries while you explore New Zealand.

13. Play a round of golf 

The Dunes Golf and Community Club Matarangi
Photo credit: The Dunes Golf and Community Club Matarangi

Golf is one of the most popular activities in the Coromandel. For golf lovers, there are several excellent golf courses in the region to choose from. 

Mercury Bay Golf and Country Club is an 18-hole course just 3 km (1.8 mi) from Whitianga. The course is relatively flat and boasts awesome views over Mercury Bay. It can get quite busy here over the school holidays, so booking in advance is recommended to avoid disappointment. 

Possibly the most well-known course in the area is the Dunes Golf Course at Matarangi, a 30-minute drive from Whitianga. This premier 18-hole course offers views of Whangapoua Harbour and Matarangi beach, throughout. Local golfing legend Sir Bob Charles designed the course.

Coromandel Golf Club, situated on the edge of Coromandel town, is a challenging 9-hole course that is set across two connected undulating valleys. Interestingly this course is maintained by volunteers, who keep it in excellent condition year-round. It’s been described as a hidden gem by visiting golfers, and the local golfers are always on-hand on the course to offer a helping hand on how to navigate its unusual terrain. It costs just $25 NZD for a round of golf here. 

14. Go camping 

If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, then camping in the Coromandel peninsula is a must. I mean, imagine waking up in your tent and being treated to some of the best coastal views on the North Island! Whether you’re traditional camping with a tent and sleeping bag or if you rent a campervan and are traversing the entire North Island, you won’t be disappointed.

As you can imagine, there are loads of awesome campsites in the region, and there’s certainly a campsite for every type of traveler here. Some of my personal favorite campsites in Coromandel include:

Kuaotunu Campground – situated between Matarani and Whitianga, this relaxed campsite offers 37 campsites, 36 cabins, a small shop, a playground, and a BBQ area. 

Waikawau Bay Campgrounds – this large campsite in Waikawu Bay has 120 non-powered tent sites and 12 powered sites. It’s a family-friendly campsite and has a prime location beside a lovely white sand surf beach which is popular with surfers. 

Broken Hills Campground – in an idyllic setting beside the Tairua River, this site has 45 non-powered sites. Kids love exploring the surrounding area, which was an old gold mining site. 

Shag Stream Campsite – one of a few campsites located along the Kauaeranga River, this small site offers 30 non-powered sites. 

Whangaiterenga Campsite – also along the Kauaeranga River, this campsite offers 50 non-powered sites. 

Related Read: If you love the Coromandel Peninsula, wait until you see the South Island! You can easily catch the ferry from the North Island to the South Island from Wellington to continue exploring.

15. Visit New Chum Beach

New Chum Beach, New Zealand
New Chum Beach, New Zealand!

Voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by various travel publications, New Chum Beach is one of the most recognizable beaches in New Zealand

There is no road into ‘New Chums’, as locals affectionately call it, which only adds to its charm. Instead, you must start your walk to the beach from the Northern end of Whangapoua Beach, and you can walk along the rocks to New Chums. This will take 40 minutes each way. You will need proper footwear and a good level of fitness, though. 

Its Maori name is Wainuiototo Bay, which translates to ‘great waters.’ The beach is 1 km (0.6 mi) long and is famed for its white sand and bright blue waters. In fact, despite this being one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, you will often find it secluded. That’s the way the locals want to keep it, they have fought hard over the years to maintain its hidden gem status, and to this day, despite its renowned status, it remains only accessible by foot!

16. Enjoy the scenic drive along Tapu to Coroglen Road

This winding 28-kilometer (17.4 miles) stretch of road is breathtaking to drive. Not only is the drive from Tapu to Coroglen beautiful, but at times you will find yourself holding your breath on the very narrow sections, which only have enough space for one car to pass. 

It’s a steep drive into the mountains, and the roadside is shaded by huge ferns, which gives this drive a sort of ethereal feel. The drive is not recommended for those inexperienced with New Zealand’s roads because of these narrow sections and because it’s mostly a gravel road. 

Along the way, be sure to stop at the Square Kauri, an unusually shaped kauri tree that is the 15th largest of its kind in Coromandel and is believed to be over 1,200 years old. It’s named so because of the square shape of its truck. It’s a short 10-minute walk to the tree, but it’s a steep climb (there are 187 steps in total). 

At the viewing area, you can see the Square Kauri as well as marvel at the views of Maumaupaki (also known as Camels Back), which is part of the Coromandel Ranges.

17. Whiti Farm Park

Whiti Farm Park on the Coromandel Peninsula
How cute are the animals!?

This 8-acre farm is a great family-friendly activity in the Coromandel. Here, there are over 40 different animals that call the park home, including farm animals like alpacas, horses, and goats, and some exotic animals. You can even hand-feed a baby goat and get a cuddle from a rabbit! 

There’s a lovely short bushwalk here too, and it’s worth noting the park is stroller friendly, and there are a couple of picnic tables too. 

Your machinery-mad little ones will love seeing the many farm machines dotted throughout the park. You can also get up close/take a photo with an old fire engine and even a train here. 

Whiti Farm Park is located on the main road between Coroglen and Whitianga. Entrance to the farm is $12 NZD per adult (over 16 years of age) and $8 for children. 

18. Mt Pauanui Track 

Mt Pauanui Track is definitely one of the best things to do in the Coromandel region. This 5.1 km (3.1 miles) loop trail is rated as moderate, although many who’ve completed the trail would describe it as challenging. This trail is so challenging because it’s a steep climb to the top (you will gain 384 meters/1,260 feet in elevation), and the trail has many exposed rocks and tree roots that are quite a trip hazard. 

The views from the top are epic (you can see Pauanui and Tairua, and Coromandel Forest Park from this prime vantage point). In fact, it’s the very same view from the top of the Mt Paku Summit track, which is directly across from Mt Pauanui. Therefore I recommend only doing one of the two hikes. 

The track starts from the end of Pauanui Beach Road, or alternatively, you can start at Cave Bay, which is a slightly easier climb but still challenging. It will take about 2 hours to complete Mt Pauanui Track. 

19. Fun Zone Adventure & Family Park 

A bouncy castle at Fun Zone Whitianga on the Coromandel, New Zealand
Photo credit: Fun Zone Whitianga

Just 7 km (4.3 miles) from Whitianga is the Fun Zone Adventure and Family Park, which is exactly what its name suggests – a fun zone for the whole family! There are plenty of fun activities on offer here including archery, target paintball shooting, soccer golf, outdoor laser tag, laser clay shooting, and kids’ quad biking. It’s a must-visit for adventurous families!

There’s something for every age at this Family Park. You can purchase a group combo with a minimum of 4 people for $35 NZD per person and it includes soccer golf, laser tag, and paintball. The Kids Unlimited Combo is also a great deal for $60 NZD per child there are even more activities included! This is a fun way to spend an afternoon with the family and a unique thing to do on the Coromandel Peninsula.

20. Mill Creek Bird Park and Animal Encounters

A cow at Mill Creek Bird, Reptile and Animal Park
So cute! Photo credit: Mill Creek Bird, Reptile and Animal Park

At Mill Creek Bird Park, 10 minutes from Whitianga, you can see over 400 types of birds, like the cockatoo, wood pigeon, morepork, and even the huge Canadian goose. You can even hold one of the macaws! The birds are housed across 45 different aviaries, and the lories are contained in a huge walk-in aviary; you can feed them here, which is pretty cool.

As well as birds, there are also plenty of farm animals here – like bunnies, goats, mini horses, alpacas, emus, and the unusual Kune Kune pig. There’s also a tropical fish room as well as numerous reptiles such as the Blue Tongue Lizard, Bearded Dragons, Japanese Fire Bellied Newts, and much more!

Onsite you’ll find a cafe and playground here. In fact, with so much to do, it’s easy to spend a full day here.  

Plus, it’s one of the cheapest activities in the Coromandel costing only $10 NZD for adults and $3 for kids.

21. Otama Beach

20 km (12.4 miles) from Whitianga lies a beautiful 2 km (1.2-mile) stretch of white sand beach – Otama Beach. The spectacular beach is lined with Pohutukawa trees and backed by large sand dunes. In fact, these dunes and the wetlands nearby are protected and are home to the rare sand tussock as well as the endangered dottere, a type of small shorebird. 

Despite its remote location, the beach is popular with local families who come here to swim in its calm waters. When the wind picks up, the waves here are pretty decent and attract a small number of surfers.

Worth noting is the southern end of the beach is dog-friendly. 

You can access the beach from Black Jack Road, off of State Highway 25.  

22. Go stargazing

Stargazers Astronomy Tours and Bed and Breakfast
Photo credit: Stargazers Astronomy Tours and Bed and Breakfast

Stargazers is a unique B&B in the heart of the Kuaotunu Valley which offers astronomy tours. Its location in a dark sky site, free from any light pollution, is the perfect place to gaze at the southern night sky, using their varied range of optical tools. 

Astronomy Tours are led by Alastair Brickell, a professional geologist and amateur astronomer, and are offered complimentary to in-house guests. Outside guests, can book the tour for a small fee. 

The tour begins at the on-site Observation Deck, where using a green laser point, you will learn how to identify several constellations before venturing into the astronomy dome to use the largest telescope in the region (a 14″ Celestron CGE Pro 1400XLT telescope). This will help you see the moon as well as other planets and galaxies. At the end of the tour, you will get the chance to handle some meteorites, some of which are over 4.5 billion years old!

Important to note – the Astronomy Tour is weather-dependent and may be canceled at short notice. 

Located just 16 km (9.9 miles) from Whitianga, Stargazers B&B is a great place to spend the night and offers a variety of unique accommodations. If you wish to book an Astronomy Tour as an outside guest, be sure to get in contact with them well in advance!

23. Visit Whenuakaura Island/Donut Island

Whenuakaura Wildlife Sanctuary, often commonly referred to as Donut Island because of its shape, is a privately owned island off Whangamata Beach. This secret spot (locals kept it hidden for years to protect it) is essentially a turquoise lagoon that can only be accessed from the water. It was once home to many birdlife, including the tuatara. 

It is a sacred place to the local iwi (Maori tribes) and is only accessible with a certified guiding company, such as this 2-hour tour which will take you via kayak or paddleboard here from the Southern end of Whangamata Beach. Due to the unpredictable currents, a good level of fitness and confidence in the water is a must for this tour. 

Once you arrive at the Sanctuary, you must remain in the water and not step onto the land. This is so as to preserve its fragile nature. Of course, it goes without saying that you should not leave any rubbish or food behind.

This tour departs from Whangamata Beach and provides all kayaking equipment and your local guide. You can reserve this tour in advance here for $105 NZD per person.

This is certainly one of the most unforgettable things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula!

24. Waiau Falls

Waiau Falls on the Coromandel
The beautiful Waiau Falls on the Coromandel!

A short and sweet 15-minute walk will take you into the magnificent Waiau Falls, a small but scenic NZ waterfall 15 minutes from Coromandel town. This waterfall is just 6 meters (20 feet) high, but it’s surrounded by native bush, which makes it very photogenic. It’s also a popular swimming hole with locals. 

To get to Waiau Falls from Coromandel, follow the Tiki Road south onto 309 Road, continue down this road for 7 km (4.3 miles), and you will come to the falls. 

Just a kilometer away, you can access the Kauri Grove Lookout Track, which is the most mature kauri stand on the Coromandel Peninsula. One of the most interesting trees here is the ‘siamese’ kauri which is two kauri trees with a conjoined lower trunk – it’s truly unique!

25. Go on a glass-bottom boat 

Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga
You’ll so much marine life! Photo credit: Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga

Did you know Cathedral Cove is actually a designated marine reserve? Well, on this glass-bottom boat unique tour, you can get up close to the underwater residents here without getting wet. 

This 2-hour glass-bottom boat cruise departs from Whitianga and offers the opportunity to see dolphins, whales, seals, and many other sea creatures. Snorkeling equipment is provided, so you can jump into the warm waters and get even closer to this magnificent underwater world if you do feel like going for a swim.

This is a fantastic way to explore the Coromandel Peninsula, it’s one of my favorite things to do! This tour costs $140 NZD per person and lasts for about 2 hours. You can book this glass-bottom boat tour in advance here.

Where to Stay on the Coromandel Peninsula

aerial view of the pool with the ocean behind it at Oceans Resort Whitianga
This hotel has a beautiful outdoor pool and is located very close to the beach! Photo Credit: Oceans Resort Whitianga

The Coromandel Peninsula is a beautiful region with many facets, from the rugged west coastline to sweeping bays in the east. There’s so much to see and do in this area of New Zealand, so where you stay will really depend on what you’re interested in doing while you’re here.

For a peaceful retreat, it’s hard to beat the town of Tairua, which is tucked away near the southern tip of the peninsula. With its small-town charm, mountain views, and water access by boat or kayak, this is a great place for relaxing and enjoying the scenery.

If you’re looking for more adventure, base yourself in Whitianga on the East Coast – one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand! With its long stretches of golden sand, great places for surfing and diving, and a buzzing town center with plenty of amenities, this is the place to be if you want to feel like you’re living the high life.

With that said, here are the best places to stay in both Tairua and Whitianga!

Tairua

Tairua Shores Motel – This quaint harborside property is conveniently located next to Tairua Wharf, and only a 2-minute drive to the city center or a 10-minute walk to the beach. All guest rooms come with air-conditioning and a fully equipped kitchen, and amenities on the property include barbecue facilities, laundry services, complimentary wifi, and even beach towels and shovels! Tairua Shores Motel is just a 1-minute walk to the Tairua Wharf and ferry terminal, so it’s a perfect place to base yourself for easy access to other parts of the Peninsula. You can check availability on Booking.com.

Paku Lodge Resort – Paku Lodge Resort is located on The Esplanade overlooking Tairua Harbor, just a 7-minute walk from the beach. All of the apartments at this resort are equipped with a full kitchen, a seating area with a flat-screen TV, and a private balcony with ocean views. Guests here can even enjoy free bicycle and kayak rentals! This place is super affordable and is only a 5-minute drive to the center of the city, so it’s a perfect starting point for exploring the Coromandel area. You can check availability on Booking.com.

Whitianga

Marina Park Apartments – These apartments are a great choice for travelers who are looking for spacious accommodation in a great location. Its convenient location provides an amazing view overlooking the marina and is only 19 km (11.8 mi) from Coromandel Town. Each unit at Marina Park is complete with a full kitchen including a dishwasher and microwave, a dining area, and a patio with lake views! You can check availability on Booking.com.

Oceans Resort Whitianga – Oceans Resort Whitianga is another great option for those looking for a more resort-style experience. This property has incredible amenities for guests to use including a heated outdoor pool, tennis court, and children’s playground. It even has direct access to Buffalo Beach, so it’s perfect for exploring the nearby Lost Spring Thermal Pools! This resort is only a 5-minute walk from the town center and 500m from the ferry landing. You can check availability on Booking.com.

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey on the trail to Cathedral Cove walk
Thanks for reading!

Thanks so much for reading my guide to the best things to do in the Coromandel Peninsula! This is such a picturesque region of New Zealand with so much to offer to its visitors, you really can’t go wrong with anything you choose to do here. I hope this guide has helped you plan your trip!

If you’re planning a visit to Coromandel or a nearby area, check out these related reads for some inspiration on what to do and see while in New Zealand:

33 BEST Things to do in Wellington, New Zealand 

25 BEST Places to Visit on the South Island of New Zealand

12 Best Places to Stop on the Drive From Auckland to Paihia (Bay of Islands)