Loop Auckland-Coromandel-Auckland

Aug 8th, 2019, 09:26 AM
  #1  
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Loop Auckland-Coromandel-Auckland

I'm helping family plan a trip to NZ - I've been to the South Island many times and have already suggested a SI itinerary, but as I've only been to the North Island twice, I'm a bit out of my element.

So far the plan is that they will arrive in Auckland, spend the first night there, then rent a car from the CBD and head to the Coromandel. They'll have three nights to spend on the Coromandel.

Then they want to work their way back towards Auckland, spending a night near to, but not in Auckland, giving them that entire day to explore en route and putting them closer to Auckland for the next day, when they plan to drive into Auckland early, visit the zoo, a black sand beach and whatever else they can fit in, and then head to the airport for an overnight before their early flight to Christchurch the following day.

My question - is there one particular town on the Coromandel that makes a good base from which to make day trips, incorporating Karangahake Gorge, McClaren Falls and Hot Water Beach?

And, which town would make a good base for the night they work their way back to Auckland?

Auckland - one night
Coromandel - three nights
Town near Auckland - one night
Auckland airport - one night

Ideas appreciated!
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2019, 11:23 AM
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
I'm helping family plan a trip to NZ - I've been to the South Island many times and have already suggested a SI itinerary, but as I've only been to the North Island twice, I'm a bit out of my element.

So far the plan is that they will arrive in Auckland, spend the first night there, then rent a car from the CBD and head to the Coromandel. They'll have three nights to spend on the Coromandel.

Then they want to work their way back towards Auckland, spending a night near to, but not in Auckland, giving them that entire day to explore en route and putting them closer to Auckland for the next day, when they plan to drive into Auckland early, visit the zoo, a black sand beach and whatever else they can fit in, and then head to the airport for an overnight before their early flight to Christchurch the following day.

My question - is there one particular town on the Coromandel that makes a good base from which to make day trips, incorporating Karangahake Gorge, McClaren Falls and Hot Water Beach?

And, which town would make a good base for the night they work their way back to Auckland?

Auckland - one night
Coromandel - three nights
Town near Auckland - one night
Auckland airport - one night

Ideas appreciated!
I've stayed in Thames for one night, on the way from Auckland.. I did not do the entire Coromandel peninsula (since it was raining, I cut across and then stayed above Kuaotunu. There are some Airbnbs there, but I don't see the one where I stayed. Kuaotunu isn't too bad for Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. There is also a nice beach nearby to Kuaotunu.
mlgb is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 05:47 PM
  #3  
 
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Melnq8, how many family members and what time of year?

For a suggestion on the way back to Auckland, I'd stay at Bethell's Beach (Te Henga). Not many places to stay, but we stayed at Bethell's Beach Cottages. One of the cottages has two bedrooms. Though I don't know if it would be to their taste. It's a rustic but charming place, hand-built by the owner, with stunning beach views, lush and lovely grounds, and a hot tub if they'd like to sit out and watch the stars at night. From the property, it's only a short walk down to the beautiful black sand beach. Lake Wainamu is also worth walking to, if staying in Bethell's Beach.
https://www.bethellsbeach.com

I've traveled a bit around the North Island, but only made a day trip to Coromandel and the weather was dismally grey and awfully wet, so we had little desire to get out and explore. So sorry to not be of help with this, but I think mlgb's suggestion of staying in Thames is a great one as it's an hour, 7 minutes from Hot Water Beach and nearby Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve (Cathedral Cove), 36 minutes to Karangahake Gorge State Highway, and an hour, 30 minutes to McLaren Falls Road. Do they enjoy viewing wildlife? Because Thames is also only a half hour to Miranda Shorebird Centre one of the top birding sites on the North Island: They could pass by here on their way to Auckland's West Coast (black sand beaches, Waitakere Ranges, gannet colony, wineries).
P?korokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre ? Keep the birds coming

It'd be about a 1.5 hour drive from Thames to Titirangi village (shops, grocery, etc.). From here, they could drive to Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitakere Ranges, then Karakare Beach (featured in the movie, The Piano), then popular and famous Piha Beach, then to Bethell's Beach. Muriwai Beach is north of Bethell's Beach and home to a fantastic gannet colony (in nesting season, of course). There are also some nice wineries around Kumeu. They could explore these after they leave Bethell's.

I've been to the Auckland Zoo, but while I was staying in Auckland city. It would be a 40 minute drive from the Muriwai gannet colony. It's a good zoo.
Diamantina is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 06:24 PM
  #4  
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Diamantina -

It's a group of three women. They have a list of things they think they want to do based on what they've read, but I'm discovering that they haven't done much research, so are pretty flexible. I'm also discovering it's not much fun to plan a trip when I'm not the one going

I'm trying to figure out if there's a good single base from which to see the highlights of the Coromandel - they've expressed interest in a three night stay, and I was leaning towards Whitianga, but not sure if that makes sense or not. It's the age-old problem of trying to fit too much into too little time, first and possibly only trip to NZ, etc...

I'll take a good look at your suggestions tomorrow when I'm fresh. Thank you for the detailed response. My cozy bed is beckoning.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2019, 01:39 AM
  #5  
 
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"I'm also discovering it's not much fun to plan a trip when I'm not the one going" Ah, but you've helped so many people plan their trips!

Whitianga, would be farther away from Karangahake Gorge State Highway, one hour, 43 minutes. and 2 hours 45 minutes from McLaren Falls. There are waterfalls in West Auckland and in the Hunua Ranges (not far from Thames)--maybe they'd be happy with these waterfalls. Tell them they'll see plenty of waterfalls on the South Island.
Here's an article about Coromandel:
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2...d-travel-guide

So when are they going?
Diamantina is offline  
Aug 10th, 2019, 05:32 AM
  #6  
 
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The problem with the Coramadel, beautiful though it is, is that it takes so long to get around, even by NZ standards. We have been there three times, about a week each time. We have always headed for Coromandel town and used that as a base but we have always been in a Campervan so have usually stopped somewhere on the way there and back. Not keen on Thame but we did find a wonderful beach at Opoutere, less than an hour away.

Coromandel Town is a long old drive from Auckland but quite a pleasant town and a good base for the north of the peninsula which few people get to. Stunningly beautiful, but remote. It is about an hour to Hot Water beach (but I wouldn’t bother!) Cathedral Cove is also about the same distance. If they like driving any the idea of something unusual then they could drive one way on the "309" . My wife posted about our drive along that route on our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/new-zealand/ entitled "An Encounter With Wild Pigs" - one of our more memorable NW experiences.

I concur with Diamantina’s suggestion of Bethell Beach. We camped there on our last trip on the way back to Auckland and wished we had found it sooner.
crellston is offline  
Aug 10th, 2019, 06:34 AM
  #7  
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Thank you both (again).

So, Bethell's Beach for an overnight on the day the return to Auckland or as a three night base for the whole area?

I forgot to mention they're going in mid-October. I'll take a good look at these suggestions a bit later today.

I wouldn't bother with Hot Water Beach either, but alas, it's not my trip. I've already told the ladies they'll see lots of waterfalls on the South Island, and think I've talked them out of going out of their way to see specific waterfalls when there are so many available.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2019, 09:28 AM
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BB as a stop on the way back to Auckland. It is not on the Coramadel but on the coast west of Auckland. It was convenient for us when returning our van to Auckland Airport. Upon reflection, if that night is to be included in their 3 nights it may not be such a great solution. Google maps has the drive from Coramandel town at 3 hours. The reality was quite a bit longer as I recall.

Last time there we left Auckland in mid October and the weather was excellent, but you know NZ weather!!
crellston is offline  
Aug 10th, 2019, 10:16 AM
  #9  
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I think I've got it - Thames does seem like a good base for three nights and then the final night in Bethell's Beach before heading to Auckland for that last full day. Overnight at the Novotel or Ibis at the airport.

Thanks for the feedback, I think I'll propose that to them - they can do some research themselves and see if that works, but I suspect they'll just be happy for the guidance.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2019, 06:54 PM
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Six nights total for North island, right?

Their original plan:
" Auckland - one night
Coromandel - three nights
Town near Auckland - one night (Bethell's Beach here, as a base for exploring Auckland West Coast with its black sand beaches, walks, waterfalls, Waitekere Ranges, gannet colony, wineries).
Auckland airport - one night"

According to AA Drive Distance Calculator Bethell's Beach would be about an hour's drive from Auckland Airport, going the fastest way. So they wouldn't have far to drive for that last stay at Auckland Airport, though it'd be wise to avoid traveling at rush hour.
If they decide to spend just two nights in Coromandel, they could spend two nights at Bethell's Beach and enjoy it more. We were there in November and it was lovely, but it rained steadily over the following days in Auckland. If the weather's nice on their last day, they might want to visit Auckland's Botanic Garden, as it's only a 16 minute drive from the Airport. I'd never been, but planned on visiting many times! Spring blossoms are the best, so I imagine it could be gorgeous.

Do they arrive in Auckland too late on that first day to make it to the zoo?

My favorite Auckland activity is to visit an island in Hauraki Gulf: Tiritiri Matangi, Rangitoto, or Waiheke.

Last edited by Diamantina; Aug 10th, 2019 at 06:57 PM.
Diamantina is offline  
Aug 11th, 2019, 09:58 AM
  #11  
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Yes six nights total.

First night in Auckland to recover from the long flight, visit the Sky Tower, chill. Doubt they'll have time or energy for the zoo this day, hence the full day in Auckland after the Coromandel and the short drive time to Auckland. I think they're in for a shocker regarding fatigue and jet lag.

Auckland - overnight CBD
Thames - three nights
Bethell's Beach - one night
Auckland hotel - one night

I understood your recommendation of Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitakere Ranges, Karakare Beach, Piha Beach, Muriwai Beach as things to do en route or a short distance from Bethell's Beach? If so, they'll have plenty to fill that day.

They won't be going directly to the airport from Bethell's Beach - they'll head back to Auckland to do what they weren't able to do on their arrival day, then head to an airport hotel to spend the night before the next morning's departure to Christchurch.

I suggested Waiheke in my first run at an itinerary, but they vetoed that.

Just trying to make suggestions based on what they think they want to see and their rather convoluted flight schedule. It's been a bit of an ordeal because one of them is departing before the other two, so I had to come up with an itinerary that got them back to Christchurch for that person's flight, then fill in the remaining days for the others after she leaves. And of course they're entirely unrealistic, thinking they can cram everything in, which you and I know is impossible.

I sent them the itineraries yesterday, we'll see what they decide.

I'll suggest the Botanic garden and possibly a second night at Bethell's Beach to them as well.

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 11th, 2019 at 10:11 AM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2019, 03:31 PM
  #12  
 
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Maybe skip Karekare Beach unless they're fans of the movie, The Piano, because this beach is the hardest to get to. Plus, the road to its waterfalls in now closed due to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease.

Arataki Visitor Centre, then Piha Beach on the way to Bethell's are doable. Please advise them that the roads are winding in this area.

Arataki Visitor Centre offers impressive views overlooking the Waitakere Ranges. I believe some of its tracks are closed due to kauri dieback disease, but some will be open for sure. There is a short walking path around the visitor centre itself. This is a great place for getting information about other attractions in the area. The park rangers are well-informed.

Muriwai Beach can be visited on that last day, when they drive from Bethells to Auckland. It doesn't take long to get to the city center from there, 30 to 40 minutes. This is what we did. We checked out of Bethells Beach Cottage, drove to Muriwai, spending about 45 minutes looking at the gannets and admiring this spectacular, wild coastline, then visited a couple of wineries in Kumeu, before checking into our Auckland accommodation. The gannet colony is fabulous and it will be nesting season.
https://www.whentobewhere.com/travel...-gannet-colony

If they need to pick up groceries for their stay at Bethells, they should shop in Titirangi village. Titirangi village to Arataki Visitor Centre is a 10 minute drive. Arataki Visitor Centre to Piha Beach is a 30 minute drive. Piha to Bethells is a 45 minute drive.
Diamantina is offline  
Aug 12th, 2019, 05:16 AM
  #13  
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Will do, thanks Diamantina.
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