Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Colenso Country Café and Shop

    A cottage café and craft shop are set in a garden full of citrus and olive trees and kitchen herbs. The café serves soups, moreish country-style pies, salads, and an ever-changing variety of cakes, scones, muffins, slices, and Devonshire teas. In the shop you can procure tasty chutneys, jams, organic honey, and giftware. The open grassy space, play area, and tame donkeys make this an especially good place to stop with kids. It's located on State Highway 25 just south of the Hahei turnoff on the way to Tairua.

    State Hwy. 25, Whenuakite, Waikato, 3591, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues. and Wed.
  • 2. Colville General Store

    Colville's classic counterculture General Store is run by a local co-operative. It sells foodstuffs (there's a well-stocked organic section), wine, beer, and gasoline. It's kind of like the general store that used to be in all country areas. It's also the northernmost supplier on the peninsula, so don't forget to fill your tank.

    2314 Colville Rd., Colville, Waikato, 3584, New Zealand
  • 3. Mataatua Māori Marae

    Mataatua, one of the most beautiful carved wharenui (meetinghouses) in Māoridom, endured a 130-year-long indignity: it was dismantled; carted to museums around New Zealand, Australia, and England; and rebuilt in various forms. In 2011, the house was returned home to the local Ngāti Awa people and restored. For a truly enriching cultural experience, let these people host you, explain their protocols, and share their history (including song, chants, and an outstanding light show). They’ll also take you for a short coastal walk, tell the story of their ancestors, and show you where they first landed in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

    105 Muriwai Dr., Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, 3120, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From NZ$49
  • 4. Mauao (Mt. Maunganui)

    This dormant volcano is the region's visual icon; its rocky cone stands sentinel, 761 feet high at the end of the peninsula that boasts one of New Zealand's best swimming and surfing areas. White-sand beaches with rolling surf stretch for miles away from Mauao. Trails on Mauao include an easy walk around its base and the more strenuous summit climb. To get to Mauao, head toward it along any road running parallel to the beach. The Mount Maunganui area gets crowded around Christmas and New Year's Eve, so consider early or late summer (or even winter) for your visit. Beach walks or exploring Mauao is a delight at any time, and the sidewalk cafés are always open.

    New Zealand
  • 5. Ōhope Beach

    The region’s most popular and safest swimming beach is the 11-km (7-mile) laid-back Ōhope, just a 10-minute drive east of Whakatane. Pohutukawa Avenue, Ōhope's main road, runs parallel to the beach, flanked by native pohutukawa trees, private homes, and grazing cows. You can stay in the Top 10 Holiday Park or choose from a range of holiday homes, motels, apartments and B&Bs. There's lots to do here: fishing off the beach, surfing, and walking the Nga Tapuwae o Toi trail are just a few options. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (free); toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming; walking.

    Pohutukawa Ave., New Zealand
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  • 6. Cathedral Cove

    The Cathedral Cove rock arch is possibly the most visited feature in Coromandel. The two-hour return walk is steep, and the water at the cove is usually calm and clear, so good for swimming and snorkeling. To get there, travel along Hahei Beach Road, turn right toward town and the sea, and then, just past the shops, turn left onto Grange Road and follow the signs. In the height of summer the parking lot at the trailhead is closed and a shuttle bus (NZ$5 return) takes you from Hahei Village. Or you can walk from the northern end of Hahei Beach, adding a 20-minute climb. Another option is to jump on the Cathedral Cove Water Taxi that buzzes from Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove in a few minutes. Or you could paddle there with Cathedral Cove Kayaks. A good plan is to visit outside peak summer holiday season, January in particular.

    End of Grange Rd., Hahei, Waikato, 3591, New Zealand
  • 7. Comvita

    This company has developed a worldwide following for its honey-based health products and Experience Comvita shows you why. Take a guided tour and interactive 3D experience to learn about the honeybees and the healing properties of native New Zealand plants, in particular the manuka tree. Tours (40 minutes) start at 10, 11, 1, and 2; advanced booking is recommended. You can also relax in their café and explore the retail store, where trained staff will explain the range of health, wellness, and beauty products available.

    23 Wilson Rd., Bay of Plenty, 3189, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: NZ$10 for guided tour, Daily 8:30--5
  • 8. Cooks Beach

    This beach lies in Mercury Bay, so named for Captain James Cook's observation of the transit of the planet Mercury in 1769. The beach is notable for the captain's landfall, the first here by a European. It's a beautiful expanse of white sand backed by a growing sprawl of vacation homes. Forest-covered headlands overlook each end (take the walking track to Shakespeare Cliff Scenic and Historic Reserve, on the northern headland for the view). The beach is a safe family swimming spot, likely to be crowded in peak summer months (January) and delightfully quiet at other times of the year. Along with private vacation homes, B&Bs and a holiday park with campsites and cabins are located near the beach. Amenities: food and drink; parking; toilets. Best for: sunrise; swimming; walking.

    Marine Parade, Cooks Beach, Coromandel, 3591, New Zealand
  • 9. Driving Creek Railway

    The late Barry Brickell's narrow gauge railway, built so the potter could access special clay found at the top of a steep forested slope, has become a major tourist attraction. Trains make several one-hour trips each day, taking in a viaduct, three tunnels, a spiral, and a switchback through native forest, eventually climbing to the Eyefull Tower and viewing platform. The railway also funds a reforestation program and a 1.6-acre fenced wildlife sanctuary. The latest on-site addition is Coromandel Zip Line Tours, a three-hour experience encompassing eight zip lines. Advanced booking is advised; it's essential during peak summer months.

    380 Driving Creek Rd., Coromandel, Waikato, 3506, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: NZ$35 rail tour, NZ$127 zip line
  • 10. Fletcher Bay

    Beyond Colville, a twisty, gravel road will take you to Fletcher Bay, the northernmost end of the peninsula. (It's impossible to fully circumnavigate the peninsula by road). To reach Fletcher Bay, turn left at a T-junction about 5 km (3 miles) north of Colville. This road follows the west coast to a stunning sandy beach at Port Jackson, then continues along the cliff-top and down to Fletcher Bay, a smaller, sandy cove banked by green pasture rolling down to the beach. It's 60 km (38 miles) from Coromandel—a 1¼-hour drive. There's a small camping ground here, tracks and beaches to explore, and a great kayaking spot. From Fletcher Bay, hikers can follow the signposted Coromandel Coastal Walkway, an old bridle trail along the very northeastern tip of Coromandel Peninsula, down to Stony Bay. It's a charming three- to four-hour walk, partly along clifftops with grand views across to the Mercury Islands, and at times dipping down to secluded, forest-fringed beaches.

    New Zealand
  • 11. Gold Discovery Centre and Gold Mine Tour

    New owners Karen and Eddie Morrow manage both this and the Waihi information center (in the same location), and their enthusiasm is infectious. You can head underground to the interactive museum for an explanation of the region’s gold-mining history. The roof is lined with timbers as if you are in a real mine shaft. You can operate a compressor drill; fire the explosives; learn about local geology and the role of stamper batteries in extracting gold from rock; and understand the social upheavals of striking miners, unions, and bosses. If you want to see the real thing, take a tour (1½ hours) to Waihi’s still-working mine. Bike rental is also available here.

    126 Seddon St., Waikato, 3610, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From NZ$28; tours from NZ$44
  • 12. Goldfields Railway

    This half-hour, 7-km (4½-mile) heritage-train journey into the Karangahake Gorge follows part of the former Waihi to Paeroa line, built in 1905 after five years of challenging construction in the steep gorge country. The train travels from historic Waihi Railway Station to the Waikino Station Café (with great house-made baked goods). Travel one-way or round-trip, or bring your bike---from Waikino to Paeroa, the former railway line now forms part of the Hauraki Rail Trail for bikers and walkers. Train reservations are recommended.

    30 Wrigley St., Waihi, Bay of Plenty, 3610, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From NZ$15
  • 13. Goldmine Experience

    Take a guided experience to learn about one of the richest gold strikes in the world. The tour includes a 40-minute underground tour of an 1868 stamper battery. Wear sturdy footwear, as it can be muddy. Advanced booking is recommended.

    Corner of State Hwy. 25 and Moanawataiari Creek Rd., Thames, Waikato, 3500, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: NZ$15
  • 14. Hot Water Beach

    This wild and potentially dangerous surf beach is incredibly popular for its under-the-sand thermal spring. By scooping a shallow hole in the sand, you can create a pool of warm water; the deeper you dig, the hotter it becomes. The phenomenon occurs only at low- to mid-tide, so time your trip accordingly. In summer you'll be joined by hundreds of other spade-toting, wannabe bathers—plan your visit outside of busy January if you can. Hot Water Beach is well signposted off Hahei Beach Road from Whenuakite (fen-oo-ah-kye-tee). If you need to while away some time before the tide goes out, there are a couple of beachside cafés, plus the Moko Artspace gallery to browse.   Only swim in the lifeguard-patrolled areas; the beach is notorious for drownings; however, nearby Hahei Bech is one of the finest and safest on this coast. Amenities: food and drink; parking (fee); showers; toilets. Best for: surfing; walking.

    Hot Water Beach Rd., 3591, New Zealand
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  • 15. Lindemann Road Lookout

    For great views over the Bay of Plenty, drive a couple of minutes north of Katikati on State Highway 2 to Lindemann Road. The lookout is signposted at the turn off. Drive 3½ km (2 miles) to the road's end and the lookout. The road is good but narrow in parts; you'll find a map embedded in rock to help orient you. If the weather is clear you might see volcanic White Island to the south. Self-contained campervans can stop here overnight.

    New Zealand
  • 16. Martha Mine

    In the center of Waihi, gaze in awe into the huge open pit of the Martha Mine, one of the world's most significant gold and silver mines of its time. Since the late 1800s, thousands of miners worked here, extracting 174,000 kilograms of gold and more than a million kilos of silver. Cross the road from the Waihi i-SITE Visitor Information Centre to the Cornish Pumphouse (relocated here) for a glimpse into the pit, and perhaps walk around the Pit Rim Walkway (5 km/3 miles). For a more insightful experience book a trip with Gold Discovery Tours.

    Seddon St., Waikato, 3610, New Zealand
  • 17. McLaren Falls Park

    Four hundred and ninety-four acres of parkland, alongside a gentle flowing river that tumbles over the small McLaren Falls, make a great spot for a picnic or driving break. Picnic tables, coin-operated barbecues, and toilets are located throughout. Walks include a 10-minute easy bushwalk to the falls and more strenuous walks to lookouts on Pine Tree Knoll or The Ridge. It's located a 15-minute drive south of Tauranga off State Highway 29, one of the main roads into Tauranga.

    State Hwy. 29, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, 3171, New Zealand
  • 18. Mills Reef Winery

    Mills Reef has built a fine reputation for its award-winning wines and the winery itself is a treat to visit. The spacious, landscaped, 20-acre complex encompasses an art deco--style tasting room and popular restaurant with indoor/outdoor dining. Cellar door staff will guide you through tastings of the winery’s favored Bordeaux-style reds, Syrahs, and the highly regarded Elsbeth Range. The 150-seater à la carte restaurant is popular for brunch and lunch, and open occasionally for dinners (check their website).

    143 Moffat Rd., Bethlehem, Bay of Plenty, 3140, New Zealand

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed evenings Sun.–Wed.
  • 19. Ohiwa Oyster Farm

    Just beyond Ohope, following Wainui Road around the huge Ohiwa Harbour, it's not uncommon to see locals (plus the prolific number of resident wading birds) out on the mudflats harvesting oysters for dinner. The Ohiwa Oyster Farm grows its own oysters and smokes a variety of fish. They serve it all up takeaway style from a humble little kitchen/hut. The harborside picnic tables are a lovely setting for enjoying these tasty morsels.

    Wainui Rd., Ohope, 3121, New Zealand
  • 20. Papamoa Hills Regional Park

    Papamoa Hills

    A 45-minute climb through this 108-acre regional park will take you to the summit of a former Māori pā that dates back to 1460. It’s one of the earliest archaeological sites in the region. From the parking lot the trail is clearly marked: you climb through pine forest, then open farmland. Stop for the views, if not to catch your breath. The park is a 20-km (12½-mile) drive east of Tauranga (en route to Whakatane). You'll need to get off the tolled expressway for access. If traveling from Tauranga, take the Papamoa exit and then follow the signs indicating the free road to Te Puke. Go past Welcome Bay Road and look for Poplar Lane on the right. The parking lot is at the end of Poplar Lane.

    Poplar La., Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, 3187, New Zealand

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