The Coromandel Peninsula is a picturesque and diverse region located on the North Island of New Zealand. The peninsula is characterized by its rugged coastline, sheltered bays, and volcanic hills covered in dense native forests. With its white-sand beaches, lush native forests, and picturesque mountain ranges it comes as no surprise that this region is a popular vacation spot for both local kiwis and visitors from abroad. There is a huge variety of things to do in Coromandel Peninsula. From hiking, biking, to exploring the interesting old Gold mining history of Coromandel or relaxing at one of the beautiful Coromandel beaches. There is something for everyone’s preference. Find in our complete guide all the best things to do in Coromandel so you’re well prepared for your visit.
About the Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula is located on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island and stretches over 85 kilometers (53 miles) from its northernmost point to its southern tip. Known for its stunning landscapes, golden beaches, lush forests and relaxed lifestyle, Coromandel is the perfect getaway and road trip destination which offers a great combination between activities and relaxing.
The Coromandel boasts numerous beautiful beaches, making it a popular destination for water activities such as swimming, surfing, fishing, and kayaking. Some of the famous beaches include Whangamata, Hahei, Pauanui, and New Chums Beach.
There are also plenty of hikes in Coromandel for the adventurous travellers such as the Pinnacles hike and Coromandel coastal walkway.
Tourism is a significant driver of the local economy but apart from that, the region is also known for its forestry, farming, and mining industries.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation on golden beaches, immersion in nature’s beauty, or an exploration of Māori history and culture, the Coromandel Peninsula offers a delightful escape into the natural wonders of New Zealand.
The Best Things to do in Coromandel
Explore the Coromandel coastal walkway
The Coromandel Coastal Walkway is a very scenic point to point 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) hike along the rugged coastline. Along the trail you can take in the stunning coastal views, sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and native bushland.
Located on the northeastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, the trail starts from Stony Bay, which is about a 30-minute drive from Coromandel Town and takes you to Fletcher Bay. This moderate hike can be completed in a few hours. However, it’s important to consider the tides and allow enough time to complete the walk safely before darkness.
Along the Coromandel Coastal Walkway, there are several Department of Conservation (DOC) campsites where you can camp overnight. These campsites provide basic facilities and campers must obtain permits in advance from the DOC.
Visit the famous Cathedral Cove
The Cathedral Cove is one of the most iconic and famous natural attractions in the Coromandel Peninsula. Located on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, near the town of Hahei, this stunning coastal landmark is part of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve.
The unique rock formations, beautiful beach, and the impressive arch-shaped cavern is a must visit in Coromandel. Thanks to the beautifully shaped cavern, the name ‘Cathedral’ was born and draws visitors from all over the world to this location.
The main feature of Cathedral Cove is a massive natural arch that has been formed by the continuous erosion of the sandstone cliffs over thousands of years. Two beaches are connected by the arch known as Mare’s Leg Cove and Cathedral Cove Beach. With their pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters both beaches are ideal for sunbathing, picnicking, and swimming.
To reach Cathedral Cove, there were two options. A scenic 3.2 km (2 miles) one-way walk from the Grange Road parking lot to the beach. However, at this time of writing mid 2023, there is only one option left to see the Cathedral Cove, which is from the water.
This Cathedral Cove Classic Kayaking Tour is the best way to experience the rock formations and sea caves from your kayak. Along the way you can look out for marine life, including stingrays, many fish species, and possibly dolphins.
Zipline with Coromandel Zipline tours
Ziplining in the Coromandel is an adrenaline-pumping adventure suitable for people of various ages and fitness levels. Combining breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty, including native forests, valleys, and sometimes glimpses of the nearby coastline, this is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness of the Coromandel Peninsula.
A fun way to get to the ziplines is via a short railway through the mountains, known as the Driving Creek Railway Explorer. This tour is separately bookable and is a great family friendly activity. And because the train is covered it is a smart rainy day activity too!
Visit the Whenuakura wildlife sanctuary
Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary is a uniquely shaped ecological sanctuary just off the coast of Whangamata. This collapsed volcanic blow hole presents itself as a remarkable ring-shaped formation and is therefore also known as “Donut Island”.
You can explore this natural wonder by yourself or with a guided tour. With a kayak you will glide through the 12-metre high tunnel to an open-air lagoon with unbelievable clear turquoise water. SurfSup offers kayak rentals for self guided tours but also provides the guided tour. During a guided tour you will learn more about the geology, ecology and cultural significance of the island.
Hike to the Pinnacles
The Pinnacles Walk is also known as the Kauaeranga Kauri trail and is one of the most popular and rewarding hiking trails in the Coromandel Peninsula. This is a long day hike but is also very popular to do as an overnight hike to see sunset and sunrise from this epic viewpoint called ‘The Pinnacles’.
The trail is located in Coromandel Forest Park, near the town of Thames on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula. It offers stunning vistas, lush native forests and the breathtaking panoramic views at the summit of the Pinnacles.
The trail to the Pinnacles can be hiked as a loop track, with two main options:
- Day Hike: Many visitors choose to do a day hike, starting from the Kauaeranga Valley Visitor Centre. The return trip to the Pinnacles summit and back is approximately 8-9 hours, covering a distance of around 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).
- Overnight Hike: For a more leisurely experience, you can opt for the overnight hike. There are several backcountry huts available for booking, allowing you to split the hike into two days and fully enjoy the scenery along the way.
At the beginning of the hike, you’ll cross the impressive Webb Creek Suspension Bridge. This is a fun and adventurous element at the start of the hike. Further along you will pass some magnificent kauri trees when the trail winds it’s way up through lush native forest. The absolute highlight of the hike is reaching the Pinnacles summit. Here you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the surrounding Coromandel ranges and Hauraki Gulf.
Relax at Hot Water beach
Hot Water beach is a fun natural attraction on the Coromandel coast near the town of Hahei. It is famous for its natural hot springs that bubble up through the sand. By digging a hole in the sand you can create your own hot water pool and then relax in.
The hot springs at Hot Water Beach are a result of geothermal activity beneath the ground. The underground reservoir of hot water is heated by magma from the earth’s core. As the hot water rises to the surface, it seeps through the sand and creates a unique natural hot spa at the beach.
The best time to visit Hot Water Beach is within two hours before or after low tide. During this time, the hot water springs are exposed and easily accessible. It’s essential to check the tide times before planning your visit to ensure you can experience the hot pools.
When the tide is low, you can rent a shovel from nearby cafes. Or bring your own and dig a hole in the sand to expose the hot water. The hot spots can vary, so it may take some trial and error to find the perfect spot to create your own hot pool. Be cautious as the water can be scalding hot in some areas. Also make sure to respect and protect the environment. Avoid using soaps or lotions in the hot pools. And do not dig deep holes too close to the waterline, as these can create hazards for other beachgoers and disturb the natural ecosystem.
Hot Water Beach is close to several other beautiful attractions on the Coromandel Peninsula. For example, Cathedral Cove, another popular beach and rock formation, is just a short drive or boat trip away from Hot Water Beach.
Check out the Karangahake Gorge
The Karangahake Gorge is a scenic gorge in the southern part of the Coromandel Peninsula, between the towns of Paeroa and Waihi. It is a popular destination for nature lovers, hikers and history enthusiasts, offering a combination of outdoor activities and stunning landscapes.
Characterized by its rugged terrain, lush native bushland and the Ohinemuri River, the gorge is a very picturesque area, making it a haven for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
The Karangahake Gorge offers a network of well-maintained walking and hiking trails suitable for all fitness levels. One of the most popular tracks is the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway, which takes you through a historic gold mining area, past old mining relics, tunnels, and railway remains. The walkway follows the old railway line that was used during the gold rush era. This gives an excellent opportunity to delve into the region’s rich mining history.
Relax at New Chums beach
New Chum beach is one of the most stunning and unspoiled beaches in New Zealand. Renowned for its natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and lush coastal surroundings, spending the day at New Chums beach is a great way to enjoy a summer day in Coromandel.
However, you will have to put in some effort to get to this beautiful beach! Because there is no car park near the beach, you will have to hike from the nearest parking spot which is 20 to 30 minutes walk away. This picturesque walk from Whangapoua Beach, which is the nearest accessible point by car, will take your through native bush and over a saddle before descending to the secluded beach.
Besides enjoying the beach itself, you can also explore the rocky headlands and coastal cliffs surrounding New Chums Beach. The area is part of the larger Coromandel Forest Park, offering several walking tracks and opportunities to immerse oneself in the pristine natural environment.
It’s a perfect spot for people seeking tranquility and who love a bit of an off the beaten path adventure away from the crowds.
Cool off at Owharoa Falls (Karangahake Falls)
One of the most popular waterfalls in the Coromandel area is the Owharoa Falls, also known as Karangahake Falls. Located near the town of Waihi, this waterfall is known for its picturesque setting amidst lush native bushland. Owharoa Falls cascades down over a rocky ledge, creating a beautiful natural spectacle. The surrounding scenery adds to the charm, making it a popular spot for nature lovers and photographers.
Visiting Owharoa Falls is easy as the waterfall is very accessible. There is a 1 minute walking track from the car park to the viewing platform, offering excellent views of the waterfall.
If you like to take a dip in the refreshing water of the natural pool this is possible. However, you should be aware of the slippery rocks. You can perfectly combine a visit to the Owharoa Falls with the Karangahake Gorge as both spots are located in the same area.
Visit Mill Creek bird park
A great family friendly activity in the Coromandel is visiting Mill Creek bird park. The park is home to a diverse range of bird species, both native and international. Visitors can observe and learn about various parrot species, including the colorful and intelligent Kea. But also other native New Zealand birds such as the Kaka and the Tui.
In addition to the diverse birdlife, Mill Creek Bird Park also has a wildlife sanctuary. Here you can see wallabies, alpacas, and Kunekune pigs. The guided tours led by knowledgeable staff provide insights into the behaviors, habitats, and conservation efforts of the animals residing in the park.
With an entrance fee of $10 NZD for adults and $3 for kids it is one of the most affordable activities in the Coromandel.
Dive into the old Gold mining history of Coromandel
The Coromandel Peninsula has a rich and fascinating history of gold mining dating back to the late 1800s during the New Zealand gold rush era. Gold was first discovered in the region in 1852, and soon after, thousands of prospectors arrived in search of fortune. The area around Thames, on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula, became one of the largest goldfields in New Zealand. It’s fascinating to realise that 600 metres below the surface a web of gold mining tunnels spanned 175 km during the peak gold production in 1909.
Nowadays you can explore remnants of the old gold mining era in several places in the Coromandel. Thames is a great option where you can visit The Thames School of Mines and Mineralogical Museum which offers a glimpse into the town’s mining history and displaying various minerals and mining artifacts.
Cycle the Hauraki rail trail
The Hauraki Rail Trail is a popular cycling and walking trail in the Coromandel Peninsula. The trail follows the former railway lines that once connected several towns in the area. Along the way you can explore the stunning landscapes, historical sites, and charming towns along the way. You’ll pass several historic sites and landmarks, including remnants of old railway stations, bridges, and tunnels, which offer a glimpse into the region’s railway history.
Best time to visit Coromandel
Coromandel region experiences a mild, coastal climate, making it an attractive destination throughout the year. Depending on your preferences and the activities you wish to enjoy, these are the best seasons to visit Coromandel.
- Summer (December to February)
Summer is the most popular time to visit the Coromandel Peninsula. The weather is warm, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). It’s an ideal time for beach activities, water sports, and hiking. The beaches are inviting, and you can explore the various outdoor attractions with longer daylight hours. However, as it’s the peak tourist season, accommodation and popular tourist spots may be crowded, and prices are higher.
- Autumn (March to May)
Autumn is a lovely time to visit the Coromandel. The weather remains mild, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). The summer crowds start to thin out, making it a more peaceful and enjoyable experience. The autumn foliage adds a touch of color to the landscapes, and you can still enjoy outdoor activities comfortably. It’s a great time for hiking, sightseeing, and exploring the region without the peak-season crowds.
- Winter (June to August)
Winter in the Coromandel brings cooler temperatures, ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). It’s still relatively mild compared to other regions. The winter months are quieter, making it an excellent time to visit if you prefer a more relaxed and serene atmosphere. You can perfectly enjoy the scenic drives, nature walks, and hot pools in the area.
- Spring (September to November)
Spring is a pleasant time to visit the Coromandel as the weather starts to warm up. Temperatures range from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F). The region comes alive with blooming flowers and lush greenery. Spring is an excellent time for nature walks, exploring gardens, and enjoying outdoor activities before the peak summer season begins.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads.
The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. You can also check Rental Cars to compare at which platform you can get the best deal. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature.
We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn. They have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the best things to do in Coromandel Peninsula. Make sure to put this awesome destination on your New Zealand North Island itinerary!
There are many amazing other things to do and places to visit on the North Island of New Zealand. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides!