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Road Trip New Zealand: Go The Coromandel & Bay of Plenty

How does a road trip to picturesque bays, historic mining towns, ancient craggy mountains and volcanoes, and a region rich in marine wonders sound? Love it? Us too! In our series with Tourism New Zealand, we take you road-tripping to the sunny side of life at The Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.

How does a road trip to picturesque bays, historic mining towns, ancient craggy mountains and volcanoes, and a region rich in marine wonders sound? Love it? Us too! In our series with Tourism New Zealand, we take you road-tripping to the sunny side of life at The Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.

6-Day, 480KM The Coromandel & Bay of Plenty

On day one, head south from Auckland to Thames, gateway to The Coromandel. Framed by the ancient Coromandel Ranges, wander the quaint boutiques, visit the museum, and grab a bite at one of the charming cafés.

From here, drive an hour to Coromandel Town, the former gold-mining centre of the region and now a peaceful artists’ haven. Spend your afternoon on the stunning half-day Coastal Walkway (book transfers!).

The Coromandel
Enjoy digging your own spa pool in the sad and relaxing in the natural springs at Hot Water Beach, The Coromandel

Day two, cross east for the sunny vibes of Whitianga. Access iconic Coromandel sites from this popular beach town, including one of NZ’s most photographed natural wonders, Cathedral Cove. At low tide, rent a spade to make your own spa on Hot Water Beach.

Start day three with a 1.5 hour drive south to Waihī, famed for its expansive white-sand beaches. Enjoy a relaxing day on Waihī Beach and walk the pohutukawa-framed Orakawa Bay. Close out the day with a sunset picnic or fish and chips on the beach.

Before heading south to the Bay of Plenty on day four, detour inland to Paeroa and Karangahake Gorge. Be sure to drink the iconic Kiwi soda, L&P, at the foot of the giant L&P bottle statue! At the gorge, stroll the scenic Karangahake Tunnel Walk.

Choose from two scenic tracks to reach the 232-metre high summit of Mount Maunganui.
Choose from two scenic tracks to reach the 232-metre high summit of Mount Maunganui.

Onwards to the Te Moananui ā Toi, the Coastal Bay of Plenty! It’s plentiful in sunshine, gorgeous beaches, marine activities and good vibes. Pre-sunrise, walk to the top of the Mount Maunganui summit track. This ancient volcano is a place of spiritual significance to Māori and an epic place to witness the sun rising across the coast and nearby islands.

Talking of islands, on day five, take the iconic Kewpie Cruise or a boat trip to one of the four nearby islands. Alternatively, rent a sailboat, dive, snorkel, fish, kayak, or surf around this spectacular peninsula. In the afternoon, kayak McLaren Falls or hike in Kaimai Mamuka Forest Park.

Tauranga's street art includes traditional Māori carving, contemporary lightworks, sculpture, street art and much more. ©PaulSutherland Photography
Tauranga’s street art includes traditional Māori carving, contemporary lightworks, sculpture, street art and much more. ©PaulSutherland Photography

Day six, wander relaxing Tauranga. The trendy street art is fun, especially the Downtown Art Lovers Walk. Enjoy a lively lunch at Tauranga’s waterfront as the Flavours of Plenty don’t disappoint! Round off your incredible road trip in Whakatāne on the Ngā Tapuwae o Toi walkway to see the old pā sites (fortified villages), seabird colonies, and native forest.

Here’s our top five things to do.

1. Immerse yourself in nature

The Pinnacles in The Coromandel
The Pinnacles in The Coromandel
  • In The Coromandel, the Pinnacles is one of the most spectacular natural sights, though a walk to the summit is not for those with acrophobia! Rugged, lush, and expansive, hike it in a day or overnight at the DOC hut to enjoy a spectacular sunrise.
  • In the Bay of Plenty, nature provides at the Moutohorā Island Wildlife Sanctuary (Whale Island). This pest-free sanctuary allows endangered and rare native fauna to thrive. Walk, listen to birdcall, or dig a geothermal pool at Onepū Bay.

2. Experience some epic thrills

V8 Trikes can zip you out to McLaren Falls Park, a huge 190-hectare park, 20 minutes outside Tauranga.
V8 Trikes can zip you out to McLaren Falls Park, a huge 190-hectare park, 20 minutes outside Tauranga.
  • Fly over the verdant native forest at Driving Creek on a ziplining tour. It’s part adventure activity, part educational as you learn about Driving Creek’s gold mining and kauri logging history.
  • See the best of the Bay of Plenty on a thrilling V8 Trike Tour. Like a motorbike, but with seats for four, this will likely be one of the coolest activities you do in the region.

3. Get out on the water

Paddle into Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary via a single 40ft-high cave.
Paddle into Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary via a single 40ft-high cave.
  • Kayak your way to the incredible rock formations at Whenuakura Wildlife Sanctuary (Donut Island), at Whangamata in The Coromandel. Enter a secluded lagoon via a 12-metre-high cave!
  • Catch a glimpse of the Bay of Plenty’s diverse marine life on a Bay Explorer Dolphin and Wildlife Cruise. You may also see whales, penguins, seals, sharks, seabirds, sunfish or schools of fish, and even a turtle (depending on the season)!

4. Experience the great outdoors

Take an evening Glow worm Kayak Tour departing from Waimarino, Tauranga.
Take an evening Glow worm Kayak Tour departing from Waimarino, Tauranga.
  • Get outdoors at The Coromandel’s Karangahake Gorge. The Hauraki Rail Trail section around Karangahake Gorge is particularly scenic, or hike the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.
  • For a neat Bay of Plenty outdoor activity, book an evening kayak tour to see the Waimarino glowworms. This tour is something to be seen to be believed!

5. Tick off a must-see site

Famous Cathedral Cove is one of the “must visit” places in The Coromandel. ©Andy Belcher/The Coromandel
Famous Cathedral Cove is one of the “must visit” places in The Coromandel. ©Andy Belcher/The Coromandel
  • One of the most iconic attractions in The Coromandel are the natural archways of Cathedral Cove. Take a glass-bottomed boat tour or sea kayak to make the most of it!
  • Deepen your understanding of Māori culture with a visit to Mataatua in the Bay of Plenty. This stunning carved ancestral house affords insights into the Ngāti Awa people, plus learn how it travelled the world for a century before returning to NZ!

Get Inspired

Want to search and explore The Coromandel before you book your trip? Check out this epic 45-second teaser.

There’s no place like this place: see the magic of the Bay of Plenty in this short and enticing video.

Driving The Coromandel & Bay of Plenty

The country roads that wind their way to The Coromandel are straightforward enough for Aussie drivers. Ensure you’re rested if you’re driving at night as the roads are unlit; daytime drives reveal the expansive scenery.

Get the Road Trip Playlist

You could “La la la la la” your entire road trip. Alternatively, save your passengers’ ears with these epic playlists.

The Coromandel team’s playlist may be short and sweet, but we wouldn’t mind having any of these tracks on repeat.

No surprise that Stan Walker’s “Take it Easy” is on the Bay of Plenty’s Spotify playlist; taking it easy is the vibe of the region, after all.

Travel Advisor? Access the Marketing Hub Toolkit Here

Enticed? Join RTOs from The Coromandel and Bay of Plenty as they reveal, educate, and surprise for one hour on the 11 May. Every attendee is also in with a chance to win one of five flights to New Zealand (yippee) and five regional gift baskets (yummy).

Don’t like surprises? Check out The Coromandel and Bay of Plenty ahead of schedule on the Tourism New Zealand Marketing Hub. Get the low-down and highlights on this stunning region of Aotearoa.

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