Coromandel Peninsula Loop


Depart from Auckland and circle the Coromandel Peninsula, renowned for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and the famous Cathedral Cove. Return to Auckland after exploring the peninsula’s natural wonders.

Embarking on a self-drive holiday around the Coromandel Peninsula is the perfect way to explore one of New Zealand’s most picturesque and diverse regions. This 4-day itinerary will guide you through stunning beaches, lush forests, and charming towns, with recommendations for activities, dining, and accommodation to make your journey unforgettable.

Day 1: Auckland to Thames – Starting the Adventure

Departure Point: Auckland Destination: Thames Distance: Approximately 115 km

Morning: Begin your journey early from Auckland, heading southeast towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The drive to Thames, the gateway to the Coromandel, is scenic and takes about 1.5 hours. Upon arrival in Thames, visit the Thames Historical Museum to immerse yourself in the gold mining history of the region.

Lunch: Enjoy a casual lunch at The Wharf Coffee House and Bar, offering fresh, locally sourced food and stunning views of the Thames Coast.

Afternoon: Spend your afternoon exploring the Kauaeranga Valley, with its numerous walking tracks that lead to breathtaking views, historic kauri logging sites, and natural swimming holes. The Pinnacles Walk is a highlight for those looking for a challenging hike.

Dinner: Dine at Melbourne Cafe, known for its excellent seafood and cozy atmosphere.

Accommodation: Stay overnight at Grafton Cottage and Chalets, offering charming chalets with panoramic views of the sea and surrounding hills.

Day 2: Thames to Whitianga – Exploring the East Coast

Destination: Whitianga Distance: Approximately 95 km

Morning: After breakfast, head northeast towards Coromandel Town. Take a slight detour to visit the Driving Creek Railway, a unique mountain railway journey with stunning views and artful creations.

Lunch: Stop in Coromandel Town and enjoy lunch at Umu Cafe for some delicious pizza and local cuisine.

Afternoon: Continue your drive to Whitianga, making sure to stop at Hot Water Beach. Here, you can dig your own hot pool from the springs under the sand. Afterwards, visit Cathedral Cove, accessible by a scenic walking track, offering one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand.

Dinner: For dinner, The Lost Spring offers not only exquisite dining but also the opportunity to relax in their thermal hot pools under the stars.

Accommodation: Spend the night at Oceans Resort Whitianga, offering stylish apartments near the beach.

Day 3: Whitianga to Hahei – Leisure and Exploration

Destination: Hahei Distance: Approximately 35 km

Morning: Start the day with a kayaking tour around the coast, exploring sea caves and marine life with Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours.

Lunch: Enjoy a relaxed lunch at Hahei Beach Cafe, known for its fresh, casual fare and friendly atmosphere.

Afternoon: Spend your afternoon at Gemstone Bay, Stingray Bay, and Mares Leg Cove, which are all part of the Marine Reserve and offer great snorkeling opportunities. Alternatively, take a scenic boat tour with Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga to see the marine life and geological formations without getting wet.

Dinner: Head back to Whitianga and dine at Salt Restaurant and Bar for a waterfront dining experience featuring local and international dishes.

Accommodation: Return to Oceans Resort Whitianga for another comfortable night’s stay.

Day 4: Hahei to Auckland – Returning Home

Return Distance: Approximately 190 km

Morning: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Hahei before beginning your journey back to Auckland. Take the western route via Thames for a change of scenery, or if you’re up for an early start, take a sunrise hike up to Shakespeare Cliff Lookout in Cooks Beach for stunning views of Mercury Bay.

Lunch: Stop in Thames for lunch at Grahamstown Bar & Diner for classic Kiwi pub fare in a historic setting.

Afternoon: On your way back to Auckland, consider a detour to Waihi Beach for a final stroll along one of the North Island’s most beautiful beaches, or visit the Karangahake Gorge for a walk through mining tunnels and across swing bridges.

Evening: Arrive back in Auckland with memories of stunning coastal views, adventurous hikes, and the laid-back lifestyle of the Coromandel Peninsula.

This 4-day self-drive itinerary around the Coromandel Peninsula offers a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences, set against the backdrop of one of New Zealand’s most beautiful landscapes. From digging your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach to kayaking around Cathedral Cove, dining in excellent restaurants, and relaxing in cozy accommodations, this journey promises an unforgettable experience.