A few weeks ago, I arrived in Australia where I’ll be living for the next year, and then immediately jetted off to New Zealand with some friends. Overall, the trip didn’t go exactly as planned, but more about that in my next blog post. While in New Zealand, we spent a little bit of time in Auckland, and then hopped in a rental car and made our way to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel Peninsula is across the Firth of Thames bay from Auckland and takes about an hour and a half to get to from New Zealand’s biggest city. And while it’s so close to Auckland, it couldn’t be more different! Where Auckland is busy and full of skyscrapers, the Coromandel Peninsula is all about small-town living and being one with nature. There are so many beautiful spots to experience around the peninsula, and I would give yourself at least one full day to see as much as you can. Here are some highlights on where to go on a visit to Coromandel:
The Pacific Coast Highway of Coromandel
You’ve probably heard of the famous Pacific Coast Highway in California, but did you know there’s one in New Zealand too? Probably not! The Pacific Coast Highway runs along the western edge of the Coromandel Peninsula and is pretty incredible. There aren’t a ton of major roads along the Coromandel Peninsula, so you are bound to drive on it at some point on your way to some of the other sights. The road has lots of curves with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other side. There are lots of beautiful beaches and spots where you can park your car and enjoy the view. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a road as beautiful as Coromandel’s Pacific Coast Highway and it’s a must-see if you are on the Coromandel Peninsula.
If you google pictures of Coromandel, Cathedral Cove is what you’ll see the most. It’s the most famous landmark on the Coromandel Peninsula and is definitely worth the hype. The official name of the cove is Te Whanganui-A-Hei (try saying that three times fast!) which is its traditional Maori name. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and Maori culture is still very prominent throughout the country. Cathedral Cove consists of different walking trails that lead to different viewpoints and eventually lead down to the beach for the main attraction, the big rock arch. Once you are down at the beach, snorkelling and diving are very popular since there are so many interesting fish who live in the waters. And if you think Cathedral Cove looks kind if familiar, you might recognise it from either The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian or Macklemore’s music video for “Can’t Hold Us”, both of which filmed there!
Hot Water Beach
Right down the road from Cathedral Cove is another major attraction, the Hot Water Beach. Just as the name says, it’s a beach where you can relax in some hot water! Right below the beach are some underground hot springs, and if you dig a hole in the sand, it will fill up with hot water and create your own personal hot tub! Definitely try to visit the Hot Water Beach at low tide as that’s when the hot springs really kick in and warm up the water and sand.
Rapaura Water Gardens
For something that makes you feel like you’re in the tropics rather than New Zealand, check out the Rapaura Water Gardens. The garden is located at the edge of a rain forest and is full of native plants and birds. There are different portions of the garden which include some beautiful flowers, a lily pond, lots of palm trees, and a cascading waterfall. The garden is really beautiful, and it feels just like I would imagine Hawaii to be like with lots of huge green plants, mountains, palm trees, and bright coloured flowers! It’s nice and peaceful and the perfect place to relax and appreciate nature.
Hahei Beach is a beautiful stretch of beach located between Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Hahei looks beautiful and really fits the needs of whatever you’re looking for in a beach. It’s the perfect spot to lay in the sand and relax, and it’s also a popular beach for water sports. You can kayak, surf, snorkel, scuba dive, and go out on a boat to enjoy the beautiful water and its marine life. Hot Water Beach is right around the corner from Hahei Beach, and you can take a scenic one hour walk from Hahei to Cathedral Cove.
The Lost Spring
And finally, if the ultimate purpose of your trip to Coromandel is to relax and take it easy, you should definitely visit the Lost Spring. This is where the geothermal pools of Coromandel are located. Visitors can relax in the pools, get a huge variety of spa treatments, and get some amazing food, all while you are surrounded by beautiful Coromandel nature! The Lost Spring is definitely aimed at a more high-end clientele and can be on the pricey side. For more details on their pools, spa treatments, and prices, check out their website here.
If you plan to visit New Zealand, definitely make sure to add the Coromandel Peninsula for your list of places to see. It offers such a different perspective of New Zealand and it really has something for everyone, whether you like adventure, relaxing, beautiful scenery, or a little bit of everything!
If you’ve been to New Zealand, what are your favourite spots to visit there? Let me know in the comment section below!
Hi I’m Christie, a 26 year old girl originally from Boston who has spent time living in New York City, North Carolina, France, Australia, and New Zealand. I love moving to new places and exploring them as a local, and I can’t see my nomadic expat life stopping any time soon! I have no bigger passion than travel, and when I’m not exploring I spend my free time reminiscing on past trips and daydreaming about future travel.