How To Spend 48 Hours in Coromandel, New Zealand

Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula | © Francesco/Flickr
Thalita Alves

The Coromandel is known for its white-sand coastlines, lush forests and breathtaking natural wonders. Its charm resonates with New Zealand travellers as much as it does with Aucklanders needing a day away from the city and local holidaying crowds seeking a good place to soak up the summer sun. Here’s what to expect when you spend 48 hours exploring the peninsula.

Day One: Coromandel Town and Surrounds

Morning: Getting to the Coromandel

If you’re coming in from Auckland, there’s a ferry that departs from downtown in the morning which takes you on a two-hour journey to Hannafords Wharf on the Coromandel Peninsula. On arrival, you can catch a free shuttle bus to Coromandel Town, a good base for exploring. The town is quite handy to all kinds of accommodation options and attractions. Guided tours can be organised from the ferry company too, among various other places.

For those wanting a self-guided approach, the Pacific Coast Highway will lead you in the right direction. It’s a slow, winding road with plenty of picturesque views that will make the trip worthwhile. Driving from Auckland to the Coromandel takes approximately two and a half hours.

Mid-morning–Afternoon: Exploring Coromandel Town

Go for a stroll around the township to get a glimpse of how the 1852 gold rush shaped New Zealand’s history. Coromandel Town is also known for being home to a number of artists, so make sure to check out some of the local galleries and, if you have an hour to spare, the Driving Creek Railway too.

Finish things off by walking along the picturesque Long Bay Beach, where you’ll find the town’s best cafes and restaurants. Fuel up and get ready for the next stretch of your journey.

Driving Creek Railway & Potteries, 380 Driving Creek Rd, Coromandel 3506, New Zealand. +64 7-866 8703

Coromandel Township and Peninsula

Afternoon: En route to Whitianga

If you’re travelling by car, consider venturing along the 309 Road that connects Coromandel Town to Whitianga. The 22-kilometre (13.67-mile) trip doesn’t take long. Just remember to drive carefully as most of the road is made of gravel, and there are a lot of interesting sights along the way. Notable must-sees include The Waterworks theme park, Castle Rock as well as the Waiau Falls and Kauri Grove.

Waiau Falls, off the 309 road in the Coromandel

Evening: Unwinding in Whitianga

Whitianga has quite a good selection of places to stay, many of which are right by the beach. Before checking into your hotel or backpackers though, you can always let your worries simmer away by visiting the famous Lost Spring Spa. These natural geothermal pools are open until 5:30 p.m. from Sunday until Friday and until 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, making them the perfect nighttime treat after a full day of travelling. The spa also has a restaurant on-site, so you won’t need to stray too far for a meal.

The Lost Spring, 121A Cook Dr, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand. +64 7-866 0456

Cooks Beach, Whitianga

Day Two: The Famous Must-sees

Morning: Breakfast in town and Mercury Bay Museum

Head over to the Esplanade for some breakfast with lovely coastal views. Your choices include the Harbour House Cafe and the Espy Cafe, both of which are known for their fantastic locations and great food options, including gluten-free treats for those with allergies. From there, you can take a quick walk up to Mercury Bay Museum, where you’ll learn a bit about the bay’s historic significance as well as get to see a number of interesting relics and photographic displays.

The Harbour House Cafe, 11 Esplanade, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand. +64 7-866 4441

The Espy Cafe, 10 Esplanade, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand. +64 7-866 0778

Mercury Bay Museum, 11a The Esplanade, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand. +64 7-866 0730

A beachfront cafe in Whitianga

Late morning–afternoon: A highlights cruise

From the museum, it’s only a short amble up to Whitianga Wharf, where you’ll be spoiled for choice on guided tour options of the Coromandel’s highest renowned highlights. The Ocean Leopard Tours, for instance, offers a two-hour ‘Full Monty’ tour of Cathedral Cove, Cooks Beach, Hahei, Shakespeare Cliff and Gemstone Bay. This one departs three times a day, at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and there’s time to swim and snorkel during the trip too.

Cathedral Cove

Evening: A seafood feast

The Coromandel is quite a popular fishing spot, so it’s no wonder that many of its restaurants focus on seafood delicacies. After you’ve spent the day cruising along the coastlines, head back to Whitianga for a meal that makes the most of local flavours. You’ve got an abundance of options here: you can grab some fish and chips from the popular takeaway shop Snapper Jacks for a beachside feast, chill out in a casual establishment like Squids Bar & Restaurant or you could add a bit of finesse to the final hours of your journey in a place like the French-inspired Poivre & Sel.

Snapper Jacks Takeaways, 26 Albert St, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand. +64 7-866 5482

Squids Bar & Restaurant, 15 Blacksmith Ln, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand. +64 7-867 1710

Poivre & Sel, 2 Mill Rd, Whitianga 3510, New Zealand. +64 7-866 0053

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