Destination Guide: The Coromandel

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The Coromandel is New Zealand’s secret gem – the place where Kiwis holiday. The region is bursting with beautiful beaches, stunning bushwalks, historic sites, and fun family activities while embracing the laidback Kiwi holiday vibe.

Whether you’re planning to head away over the school holidays or just want to escape on a mini-break, we’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create some lasting memories with your family.

Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.

Free family activities

Even if you’re travelling on a budget, there are still so many experiences you can enjoy with your family. Visit some of our favourites below or find more here.

Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway – this spectacular site between Paeroa and Waihi has several track options. The Windows Walk is a one hour loop track that takes you over suspension bridges and through old gold mining ruins to the tunnels dug by gold miners with astounding views from the “windows” to the gorge below. The Karangahake Tunnel Walk is a 45 minute loop that includes a 1100m section through the old rail tunnel. Torches are essential for both walks.

Owharoa Falls – off the Waitawheta Road in the Karangahake Gorge is a short path to this stunning waterfall with swimming hole.

Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre – south of Kaiaua on the Firth of Thames, make your way from the visitor centre along the path to view a variety of shorebirds in their natural habitat. The best time to visit is at high tide. Entry is free though a donation is appreciated.

 

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Hot Water Beach – for two hours either side of low-tide you can join the other beachgoers and dig your very own hot water pool! Be sure to bring a beach spade or two.

Cathedral Cove – Hahei’s stunning coastline is world famous. The much-photographed Cathedral Cove is even more spectacular in real life and you really appreciate its volcanic form when you visit by water, with a boat or kayak tour. The cove can be accessed by a 1.5 hour return track which passes other bays and sites of interest (with steep stairs down to the beach).

Kauri Block Track – this 1.5 hour track in Coromandel Town follows a ridge through regenerating bush and native trees. A slight diversion leads you to an old pa site with spectacular views over the harbour.

Waiau Falls Scenic Reserve – here you can see the beautiful Waiau Falls in a stunning bush setting and, if the weather is warm, it’s a great spot for a swim. Only a minute or two further along the road is the Waiau Kauri Grove, where an easy 30 minute return walk takes you through a towering grove of kauri trees.

Beaches – The Coromandel is blessed with numerous beaches – from the off-the-beaten track New Chum Beach and Orokawa Bay, to the popular swimming and surfing beaches Waihi Beach and Whangamata Beach, there’s a beautiful beach just waiting for you to visit.

Kauaeranga Valley – within the Coromandel Forest Park, the Kauaeranga Valley offers numerous short bushwalks where remnants of the area’s logging history can still be seen. There are picnic and swimming spots.

Fun family experiences

In the water, out in the bush, or exploring historic sites, The Coromandel has something for everyone. Check out our favourites below or find more ideas here.

Driving Creek Railway

Driving Creek Railway

This spectacular and quirky train ride is a feat of engineering. The narrow guage railway winds its way through native bush, tunnels and over bridges up to the Eyeful Tower  for amazing views of the Hauraki Gulf. Explore the bush further with an exhilarating guided zipline tour.

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Bullswool Heritage Farm Park

Bullswool Farm Heritage Park

A fascinating rural experience and a great day out for the whole family! Handfeed the many farmyard and rare-breed animals, explore the farming, gold mining, and kauri historic exhibits, and take the bush discovery walk to see native birds and a replica miner’s camp.

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Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park

Goldfields Heritage Railway

Board the historic train and travel through the countryside and beside the river from Waihi to the village of Waikino. Sit inside or outside on the viewing platform as the train makes its 30 minute journey.

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Hauraki Rail Trail

Hauraki Rail Trail

This easy Grade 1 family-friendly cycle path is full of amazing scenery and interesting things to see and do. The full trail is 197km long but you can join from multiple locations. The trail is free to use and you can utilise your own bikes and transport, or there’s the option to hire bikes and arrange transport for a smooth and easy adventure.

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The Waterworks

The Waterworks

This quirky theme park off the 309 Road has an eco-friendly difference using recycled materials for many of it’s contraptions. It’s super soaking fun for all with 70+ water-driven attractions and activities that are sure to bring out the giggles. Remember to bring the togs!

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Cave Cruzer

Cave Cruzer

Hold on tight and be prepared for thrills as the Cave Cruzer takes you on a tour of Mercury Bay’s highlights! See Cathedral Cove, blowholes, caves and the large sea cave, Orua. View sea life with unimpeded views and access caves other tours can’t for an unforgettable trip.

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Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours

Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours

Get a whole new view of beautiful Cathedral Cove with a family kayak tour that lands right on the beach. Paddle through sea caves and see local marine life as you take a gentle pace through the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve. There’s plenty of photo opportunities and even cappuccinos, hot chocolates and cookies included!

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Family friendly eateries

When you need to refuel from your adventures, there’s a great array of family-friendly restaurants and cafes to choose from. See our pick of the eateries below, or find more places to dine here.

The Cheese Barn (Matatoki) – this cafe tucked away in the countryside between Thames and Paeroa serves up cheese boards to share, plus great pizzas and pies. There’s also a cheese and ice-cream shop and farmyard animals to pet and feed!

Luke’s Kitchen (Kūaotunu) – a rustic seaside restaurant serving salads, seafood and woodfired pizzas along with cafe baked goods and coffee. Enjoy the best of local cuisine with a Coromandel mussel pot and freshly made garlic bread (yum!).

SixfortySix (Whangamatā) – on the main street of this beach hangout, sit a while with a coffee and indulge in some freshly baked pastries or homemade artisan delights.

L&P Cafe (Paeroa) – a popular spot that celebrates the famous-in-New-Zealand drink formerly known as Lemon & Paeroa. Menu items include plenty of L&P flavour.

 

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UMU Cafe – in the heart of Coromandel Town, this local institution is open from breakfast till dinner with an awesome choice of fresh breakfasts, sushi, salads, pizzas, and seafood plus a great choice of kids meals.

Hot Waves Cafe (Hot Water Beach) – just a short walk from the hot pools on the beach, this cafe is in a beautiful setting of native gardens and birdlife. Delicious homemade food from breakfast through to lunch, or stop by on a Friday evening when they’re open for dinner.

The Pour House (Hahei) – serving fish and chips, plus pizzas, ribs and burgers in a family-owned craft brewery and restaurant. Dog-friendly too!

Cafe Coghill House (Whitianga) – affectionately known as “The Cog”, choose from a selection of sweet and savoury baked treats plus good coffee.

Where to stay

For family friendly stays, we recommend checking out the below. Or search here for more accommodation options in The Coromandel.

Mercury Bay Holiday Park

Mercury Bay Holiday Park, Whitianga – explore Whitianga and The Coromandel from this great holiday park with accommodation sleeping up to six people in a range of chalets, cabins, kitchen units and camp sites. Facilities include BBQs, free spades for Hot Water Beach, playground, seasonal swimming pool, TV room and herb garden.

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Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park

Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park – located just 700 metres from the famous hot pools, there’s a range of accommodation to suit everyone including self-contained apartments, villas, and motel units plus cabins, glamping tents and powered and non-powered sites. Book a deluxe family villa for a touch of unique luxury. The park has an onsite grocery store and takeaway plus laundry, BBQ, bouncing pillow plus go-kart, surfobard and bodyboard hire.

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Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge

Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge, Pauanui – relaxing motel accommodation within easy walking distance of Pauanui Beach and shops. One and two bedroom self-contained apartments sleep up to five people and the onsite facilities include a swimming pool, pool/beach towels, tennis court, free bikes for hire, laundry, BBQs and free WiFi.

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Pedlars Motel

Pedlars Motel, Paeroa – perfectly located for the Hauraki Rail Trail and next to the town pool, this motel offers serviced units with en-suite facilities, kitchenette in studios, and full kitchen in the two bedroom family units which sleep up to six. Free WiFi, Sky TV, air-conditioning, secure lockup for bikes, plus guest laundry and continental breakfast available.

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Palm Pacific Resort

Palm Pacific Resort, Whangamatā – situated in the centre of Whangamatā, spacious two bedroom apartments with full kitchen facilities are set among landscaped grounds with a large swimming pool, spa and toddlers’ pool, floodlit tennis court, petanque, private spa, sauna and large BBQ area.

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Shelly Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park

Shelly Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park, Coromandel Town – this popular holiday park has beach access for swimming, kayaking and beach activities. In the park there’s a jumping pillow, playground, and room for games on the lawns plus BBQs for cooking your catch. Accommodation includes motel units, cabins, and powered and non-powered tent and campervan sites.

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Written by Kidspot New Zealand for Destination Coromandel.

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