The Coromandel: A little-known (but locally loved) New Zealand hotspot

Just an hour and a half drive from Auckland, The Coromandel’s charms are no secret to Kiwis. But the destination flies under the radar with Aussies seeking that perfect New Zealand escape.

With New Zealand borders now open once again to Australian travellers, it’s the perfect time to experience The Coromandel. The region’s landscape of hot water springs, rugged mountains, and 400km of unspoiled coastline is brimming with unique experiences. From baking in the sands of Hot Water Beach, exploring Cathedral Cove and hiking The Pinnacles. To taking in the art, stunning views, wineries and craft breweries of the peninsula. Here’s the ultimate guide to this picture-perfect Kiwi paradise.

Uncover The Coromandel’s hippie culture and resident artisans

The Coromandel has a unique and thriving art and creative scene born from its hippy heritage. An influx of free-spirited souls in the late 20th century saw The Coromandel develop into an arty haven. Inspired by the lifestyle and beauty around them, the region’s artists contribute to the quirky, creative vibe you’ll feel the minute you arrive.

A multi-generational family art space nestled in the beach community of Hahei, The Lawnmower’s Son is a space for locals and artists. It’s an ever-evolving hub to exhibit and sell stunning New Zealand artworks across a variety of mediums.  It also offers private boutique accommodation with two self-contained cottages in the gardens of the 19th century Homestead. With the bonus of being only a 5-minute walk to the beautiful Hahei Beach.

Dig your own geothermally heated pool

Within two hours either side of low tide Hot Water Beach reveals its hot water bubbling through the golden sand. It’s rated as one of the world’s most famed beaches. Families, kids, and couples can be seen digging their own spa pool and relaxing in the sands. Bring a shovel (you can rent them at one of the nearby concessions), dig your own spa bath, and take in the sea views as the hot water warms you through.

Coromandel Hot Beach
Hot Water Beach © The Coromandel

Paddle into the middle of ‘Donut Island’

Cool coastal town Whangamata is home to one of New Zealand’s most beautiful attractions. Kayak out to the fantastic Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary, which is often referred to as Donut Island. This is due to the collapse of a volcanic blowhole that created a turquoise lagoon in the centre of the island. You enter the cove via a single 40-foot-high cave flanked by stunning volcanic rock formations. Although there is a stony beach inside, the island is a wildlife sanctuary, a protected environment that you may only look at but not touch.

Experience a luxurious thermal spa

Sculpted by the hands and vision of founder Alan Hopping who spend years searching for this magical water source. Alan’s unique personality and love for The Coromandel region are reflected in everything he has created at The Lost Spring. From the swim-in crystal cave to the lush native bush throughout The Lost Spring. Relax in naturally heated mineral waters surrounded by tropical plants and soothing waterfalls. Perfect for a day of relaxation and an indulgent retreat from the world.

Coromandel Lost Spring
The Lost Spring © The Coromandel

Take a snap under the Cathedral Cove archway

A jewel of a seaside town on the shore of Mercury Bay, Hahei is a favourite with holidaymakers. Travellers flock for its stunning long white sand beach and clear, calm waters. Hahei is also the kick-off point for walks and tours to the world-renown Cathedral Cove.

This iconic archway and pristine golden beach have been immortalised in film and countless photo opportunities. The coast is a white, massive rock formed from pumice and ash that erupted about 8 million years ago. The magnificence of this natural volcanic scenery is legendary.

Drink the world’s best gin

Coromandel Distilling Co. is a micro-distillery carefully crafting Coromandel dry gin and other limited release spirits. After careers in conservation, owners Paul and Daniela moved to The Coromandel yet neither knew they would end up as full-time gin distillers. The duo even won an award for their flagship Awildian gin, named Best Gin in New Zealand, at the 2022 World Gin Awards.

Sample the region’s world-famous seafood

Coromandel Oyster Company is a roadside shack offering some of the region’s best seafood. Meanwhile, nearby Coromandel Mussel Kitchen, as the name suggests, specialise in mussels. Set in a country-style setting, their diner has views of the Coromandel Harbour. With stunning summer sunsets, it’s an ideal place to tuck into some of the freshest local seafood.

Coromandel seafood
Sample the freshest local seafood © The Coromandel

Take a hike(ing) food tour

Combine great walks with great food on a hiking tour with Nature & Nosh. The tour company offers three to seven-day hiking adventures in The Coromandel. Combine days of hiking to the North Island’s highest waterfall or exploring kauri forests and other spectacular terrains. Then dine at garden-to-plate bistros, sampling locally made gelato ultimately embarking on a food trail along the coast.

Cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail

The Hauraki Rail Trail is an easy bike ride dotted with gold mining history, rolling countryside and charming kiwi towns. It follows old railway lines between the Thames and Te Aroha. Here you can pedal alongside the Ohinemuri River and through the Karangahake Gorge to admire the stunning Owharoa Falls and photogenic gold mining sites. The entire trail takes 2-3 days, but a great day ride is the third leg from Paeroa to Waihi.

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