Making the Most of Your Time

Set aside four to five days and get a rental car. Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel need to be approached with flexibility. These regions have much to provide in a relatively small area. Allow for five-minute stops at the beach to become long coastal walks. Likewise, the many forest walks can be as challenging as you choose—from an hour to a whole day or overnight. You can approach the journey many ways, perhaps as a coastal exploration from Auckland along the "Seabird Coast," home to Miranda, an internationally recognized wetland on the Firth of Thames—then cross the fertile farmland of the Hauraki Plains to the base of Coromandel Peninsula. From here try a loop of the Coromandel that begins in Thames and ends in Whangamata, then continue along the coast to Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, and Whakatane. And be patient—the curvy roads challenge many drivers, especially tourists in campervans.

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