The Ideal Road Trip from Auckland to Coromandel
On a clear day, you can see the Coromandel Peninsula from Auckland, looking across the Hauraki Gulf. But getting there by car is a longer adventure than you might imagine.
An Auckland to Coromandel road trip makes a great getaway. It’s only a few hours away, but there are plenty of side trips and places to explore. You can go back every weekend until you’ve seen it all. Beach lovers and walkers will love the quiet spots, and everyone will love stopping at the various small towns and out-of-the-way shops.
Auckland to Coromandel Road Trip
Driving from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula takes about two and a half hours to cover the roughly 168 kilometers. To get there, you simply head south out of town on State Highway 1 and then connect to eastbound Highway 2. Just after Maramarua, follow State Highway 25 eastbound to the town of Kopu, at the base of the Coromandel.
Stop Number 1 — Thames
You can drive around the Coromandel Peninsula by either going clockwise or anti-clockwise. For our example, we’ll proceed clockwise, but you could reverse it for your own unique trip. The great thing about road trips on the Coromandel is that you can customize it however you want.
The first stop along State Highway 25 on the west coast of the peninsula is the town of Thames. Thames was once a mining town, so don’t miss the Goldmine Experience to get a feel for the history.
Thames is at the base of the Coromandel Forest Park, which occupies most of the inner peninsula. From town, several walking tracks explore the lower forest.
As you continue up Highway 25, if you don’t want to go all of the way to the Coromandel Township, you can take a scenic shortcut across the peninsula. Turn right on Tapu Coroglen Road, which connects the two towns of the same names. The route is winding and scenic, but it is all paved. If you choose this route, you’ll want to skip ahead in the guide to the town of Hahei.
Sidetrip: Coromandel Forest Park via Kauaeranga Valley Road
From Thames, you can drive up to the Kauaeranga Visitor Centre for the Coromandel Forest Park. It’s a great place to do a few walking tracks, including the walk to see The Pinnacles.
Stop Number 2 — Coromandel Township
The town of Coromandel is as far north as most people make it on the west side of the peninsula. It’s here that the highway turns east to connect to the other coast.
Around the town of Coromandel, don’t miss the Driving Creek Railway Tours. There are also several walking tracks, including the gorgeous Waiomu Valley Road Track. Long Bay on the north side of town is beautiful, with a pretty beach.
From Coromandel Township, you can cut across to Kaimarama via 309 Road, which is unpaved. Many hired car contracts prohibit driving on this stretch of road, but it’s a lovely trip if your vehicle is up for the challenge.
The safer route is to continue following State Highway 25 to your next stop on the peninsula’s east side. Along the way, the road will wind its way through the inner forests and over the Coromandel Range. Leave plenty of time to stop and take in the scenery!
Sidetrip: North Coromandel
From Coromandel Township, drive north along Colville Road. You’ll pass several beautiful beaches on little coves as you wind along the seaside. Colville is a rural town with a General Store and some wide-open spaces.
You can keep exploring past Colville, but things get even more spread out. Not many roads in this part of the Coromandel Peninsula are paved, so drive with care. You can get to Port Charles and Waikawau on the east coast by taking the Port Charles Road, but it’s a long drive.
Stop Number 3 — Te Rerenga
The town of Te Rerenga sits at the bottom of and the mouth of the Waitekuri River. Passing on the highway, you might miss it if you blink. But if you take the time to get off of Highway 25, you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular Pacific coast scenery.
Sidetrip: Whangapoua via Whangapoua Road
The paved Whangapoua Road will take you to the town of the same name. Along the way, you’ll follow the banks of the river as it flows towards the Pacific. It’s a stunning drive.
When you get to town, you can park the car and stretch your legs. Take the Opera Point Walk out to the river inlet and check out the color of the sandbars as the river spills into the sea. Farther on, don’t miss Whangapoua Beach and New Chums Beach. These secluded bays and quiet beaches are what Coromandel is all about.
Stop Number 4 — Kuaotunu
Highway 25 continues until it eventually reaches the Pacific at Kuaotuna. If you’d like to check out the beach town of Matarangi, then turn left at Matarangi Drive. It will take you directly to the beach, and then it will connect back to State Highway 25 at Kuaotuna.
Sidetrip: Otama Beach and Opito Bay
Just past Kuaotuna, Highway 25 takes a sharp turn south and inland. But you can continue exploring to the east via Black Jack Road. This dirt road will get you to the little traveled outposts of Otama Beach and Opito Bay if you dare.
Stop Number 5 — Whitianga
Highway 25 emerges at the coast again at Wharekaho, north of Whitianga. This is one of the bigger towns you’ll find on the Coromandel Peninsula, with a major marina and many restaurants and bach options.
Right across the river from town, you can see the town of Ferry Landing. Yes, you can take the ferry over, and you should. It’s a long drive, and the five-minute ferry ride is worth the enjoyment. Explore Cooks Beach.
Whitianga is also a good base if you’d like to go out on a banana boat ride or maybe try your hand at some fishing.
From Whitianga, Highway 25 winds around Whitianga Bay to the town of Kaimarama, then on to Coroglen and Whenuakite.
At Whenuakite, you can take Hot Water Beach Road north to get to Cooks Beach and the famous Cathedral Cove. You also won’t want to miss Wainuiototo Bay and Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own hot spring at low tide.
When you get back to the highway, make sure to leave time to explore on your way south to Tairua. There are several pull-offs to stretch your legs. As you pass through the mountains again, the views of the coastline below are spectacular.
Stop Number 6 — Tairua Beach
Highway 25’s last big town on the east coast of the Coromandel is Tairua. This beautiful town sits at the mouth of the river by the same name. The beach is lovely, and the views from nearby Mount Paku are not to be missed.
North of town, near Pumpkin Hill, check out the quiet beach at Te Karo and the site known as Sailors Grave.
Return to Auckland
South of Tairua, Highway 25A heads to the southwest. Take it, and you can head straight back towards Thames and then Auckland. Or, you can continue your journey along the Bay of Plenty. Check out Whangamata and Waihi Beach before turning back towards Auckland on Highway 2.
Bachcare has rentals available all around the Coromandel. Book yours today and plan an Auckland to Coromandel road trip. You’ll love this beautiful, relaxed, and quiet part of the country.