This mountainous peninsular is criss-crossed with walking trails and has some of the best white-sand beaches in the country.

The Coromandel is a historically significant region of New Zealand – the setting of some of the earliest Polynesian settlements. In the 19th century a population rush happened as settlers came in search of gold, as well as the timber from the towering Kauri trees.

These days, the peninsula is now safeguarded as a nature reserve and 34% of the land is under the protection of the Department of Conservation.

The town of Thames is an ideal starting point for exploring this region. The surrounding Kauaeranga Valley is rich in history and natural beauty and there is so much to explore.

But if it’s golden beaches you’re after, head instead to the northern and eastern shorelines, facing the ocean. This area is also known as a creative hub, with many local artists showcasing their work in local studios and galleries. Add in the remarkable natural hot springs of Hot Water Beach and you have one of the most interesting regions of New Zealand to explore.


Activities & Attractions


The Coromandel offers a lot for foodies to love – with its fresh seafood and homegrown produce.

When you’re in this region you’ll have many opportunities to try local cheeses, boutique wines, crayfish, craft beers and much more. The Coromandel Food Trail is a dream itinerary for food lovers – a string of local restaurants, wineries, unique cafes and kitchens serving up fresh green-lipped mussels with creative sauces.

Oh, and did we mention there is a Cheese Barn in Matatoki? Wash it down with a craft beer from the Pour House, the first brewery on the Coromandel.

Most small towns and villages will have cafes and food stores, even if it seems like you’re off the beaten track.

You should also try kiwi-style fish and chips offered at the popular beach spots, washed down with a New Zealand Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. Just perfect at sunset.

Fish and Chips


Whether you are looking for a simple stroll or a full day adventure, there are many excellent hikes you can enjoy in the Coromandel.

There’s a beautiful coastline with striking white cliffs to explore, as well as lush native forest interwoven with hiking trails.

Take the Coromandel Coastal Walkway for spectacular ocean views, or visit an old gold site at Karangahake Gorge. Wentworth Valley is a great option for a simple hike – it only takes about an hour each way and offers stunning views of a waterfall.

Cathedral Cove is one of the most photographed natural attractions in New Zealand, situated just to the north between Cooks Beach and Hahei. A natural sandstone arch separates two golden beaches, accessible only by boat or a short walk from Hahei.

Cathedral Cove


The Coromandel has a thriving art scene, which makes it a great place to shop for unique artwork and crafts. Check out the Thames Market every Saturday in Grahamstown, a spot for specialty treats and local fresh produce for 20 years.

The Miranda Farm Gallery is also worth a visit, as it is packed with gorgeous pottery, paintings and sculptures from local artists. If it’s antiques you’re after, take a stroll down the streets of Paeroa and pick up some treasures.


The intriguing history of the Coromandel region is represented in its excellent museums. Mercury Bay Museum is the most visited and it features exhibits about the Polynesian navigator Kule, the early Maori tribes, Captain Cook and the Endeavor, the HMS Buffalo and the early Kauri logging trade.

The Thames Historical Museum is also a highlight for history lovers, with period rooms lovingly recreated with local furnishings and clothing. In the town of Thames it is also possible to take a self-guided tour through an old gold mine at Goldmine Experience Thames.

Hot Water Beach

Bring a shovel to this unique beach and create your own geothermal pool.

When you dig into the sand, naturally warm mineral water will bubble up from below the surface. Make sure you visit during low tide so that you can enjoy this natural phenomenon. (Don’t worry if you didn’t pack a shovel in your luggage, you can hire one nearby).

Other notable beaches in the area are Cooks Beach, Hahei, Cooks Beach, Wainuiototo Bay (New Chums Beach), Pauanui and Whangamata.

Hot Water Beach

History & Culture

If you were to arrive at the Coromandel Peninsula two thousand years ago, you’d find it covered in thick forests that went right up to the water’s edge.

The Maori people lived along the coastline, enjoying the seafood and fertile wetlands.

Eventually Captain Cook arrived in 1769 and found this unspoiled paradise. He was stunned by the size of the trees, especially since there had been a timber shortage in England. The enormous trees he saw were Kauri trees, one of the largest types of trees in the world. They can grow to over 50 metres and have a trunk girth of up to 16 metres.

The Europeans arrived not long after and started milling the trees. The wood was used for sailing ships and by the mid 1800s the great Kauri forests were largely destroyed. By the time the settlers became aware of the effects of deforestation, it had become too late. Over 75 percent of the Kauri forest had been destroyed. Today, what is left of these forests is protected by an environmental reserve.

The Coromandel also experienced a population boom in the 1860s when gold was discovered. To this day you can still see the remains of the mines and batteries and some of the old buildings constructed during this era.

These days the main industries in the Coromandel are mussel farming and tourism.

Key Facts

  • The town of Thames is located within an hour and a half drive from Auckland. There are also daily bus services offered by InterCity from Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton.
  • Coromandel got its name from one of the British Navy ships, the H.M.S. Coromandel, which arrived in 1820 and brought Kauri logs back to England.
  • Cathedral Cove is one of the most spectacular beaches in the Coromandel, and perhaps in all of New Zealand. It was used in the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, to depict the beauty of Narnia.
  • One of the most beautiful hidden beaches in the region is Orokawa Bay, which is accessible via a walking trail from Waihi Beach.
  • Although the mining days in the Coromandel are long over, Coromandel Town is home to the last fully functional stamper battery in New Zealand. It’s still on its original site and operating daily.


Coromandel with MoaTrek

MoaTrek visits the Coromandel on our special tour the ‘Coromandel Caper’ running every November. This tour includes the following activities and sightseeing:

  • Drive through the dramatic Karangahake Gorge.
  • Visit the museum at Thames to learn about the gold rush days.
  • Tour Coromandel town where the evidence of its gold mining past is still visible.
  • Enjoy lunch at Rapaura Watergardens surrounded by Coromandel rainforest.
  • Explore the heart of the Coromandel Peninsula.
  • Ride the Driving Creek Railway a narrow gauge mountain railway train up through the bush to the pinnacle – the Eyefull Tower which lives up to its name with spectacular views.
  • Take in panoramic views from the Cathedral Cove Lookout to the Mercury Islands.
  • Tour the beautiful beaches of the East Coast.
  • Waihi’s craft shops and Martha Mine site.
  • Meet Doug and Jillian Johnson at Cathedral Cove Macadamias orchard.
  • Take a guided visit at Pukorokoro Shorebird Centre and learn about the migratory habits of New Zealand seabirds.
  • Return to Auckland via the spectacular coastal road along the Firth of Thames.

Find out more about this tour.

Most MoaTrek tours depart from Auckland, just a 90-minute drive from the Coromandel. The MoaTrek team is more than happy to help you with travel arrangements so you can explore the Coromandel at your own leisure.

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