Rent a car in Auckland. I used Jucy rental cars and they open from 8 am to 4:30 pm. It took about 30 minutes to get all the paperwork done and get my car.
Auckland to Coromandel drive is 2hr 30 min, through mostly easy to drive motorways with speed limits up to 100 km/hr. there are no tolls to use the motorways.
Once you enter the Coromandel the roads have more curves, especially as you go besides the ocean but as long as you go slowly there is no problem.
It’s the biggest town in Coromandel, here you can go to the iSite for information. It is also one of the closest towns to do the Pinnacles walk.
The 309 Road
The road that connects east and west coast of the Coromandel. For most of its 20 km it’s an unsealed (gravel) road and it can be a little narrow in some parts. There is a lot to see in this road so I suggest plan ahead in which places you want to stop.
Castle rock, Waiau Falls and Kauri trees are free.
Some of the attractions in it include:
• Coromandel Mussels Kitchen
• Stuart & The Wild Pigs
• The Waterworks
• Wet your Whistle Café
• Castle Rock
• Waiau Falls
• Kauri Trees
• Egan Park
After The 309 Road the closest town around is Whitianga. It is a small town on the shore of Mercury Bay and it’s the closest town to stay at if you want to see Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove and Shakespeare’s Cliff.
It may be a small town but it does have a few options in hotels, motels and backpackers. I am interested in backpackers so this is the list of the ones I saw.
• On the Beach Backpackers Lodge (My review Here)
• Turtlecove Accomodation (My review Here)
• Cat’s Pajamas Backpackers (I didnt stay here, you are on your own fella)
Whitianga also has restaurants, bars, cafes, a cinema, 2 big supermarkets, gas stations, library, bookstore, The Warehouse, etc. Also an iSite where you can book tours and get information.
- Hot Water Beach
This is one of the main attractions in Coromandel but to enjoy it you have to come at the right times. Apparently it all depends on the tide so I suggest don’t be stupid like me and plan the day around the tide times if you want to actually enjoy the beach spa experience. Also bring a friend.
It is a beautiful place, and the park itself has many hiking courses. Although if you don’t have much time I would skip this one or just do the main lookout.
3. Cathedral Cove
For me this was the best place I saw on day 2 of Coromandel. If you come by car parking is free and you have to walk around 45 minutes down to the Cathedral Cove. The walk itself is not too difficult because the road is paved and mostly going downhill (coming back is a bit more challenging).
If it’s warm enough to swim you can swim and see the caves too, but if it’s too cold just staying in the beach is still an impressive sight.
- Port Jackson
If you have a car (especially if it’s a 4 wheel drive) I highly recommend going to Port Jackson because it was the best place I saw in Coromandel. From Whitianga to Port Jackson it’s about 87 km, 30 km of which are unsealed (gravel) roads. I went with a regular car, not a 4 wheel drive and it was fine just go slow and carefully.
Port Jackson is a camping site complete with showers, toilets and cooking stations and fish degutting stations. Costs for campers per night are:
• Adults: $13
• Children: (5-17 years old) $6.50
• Infant: Free
• Visitors can only use the visitor parking and there was no mention of a fee.
This is a beautiful place where to enjoy the greenest grassy mountains and the bluest ocean. It is just beauty everywhere you see. It’s like being in a painting, a work of art but in real life.
- Karangahake Gorge
It is located in between Waihi and Paeroa and its part of the Hauraki Rail Trail. Inside there are many different walkways each taking you to a waterfall or scary but cool dark tunnels or to the ruins of old gold mines.
Entrance and parking are free!!! Perfect for those in a budget.
I would recommend to allow plenty of time to see and walk it all but if in a hurry like I was the “Windows Walk” is where the tunnels are.
You can also cheat time by skipping the middle walk just park on the side of Waikino station café and then walk to see the Victoria Battery and Owharoa Falls. Then go back to the parking lot and drive to Karangahake Hall to park your car and from there walk to see the tunnels in Windows walk and Talisman Battery ruins.
If you like antiques then you should leave time to check out this town, I saw some funky looking stores all over town. But it also has a lot of other stores many restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and some cool clothing stores (I am guilty of having over indulged in an $80 poncho….)
But if not staying for the shopping one quick stop to take a photo of the big L&P bottle should be enough. To be honest I only stayed one hour in Paeroa.
Paeroa to Auckland is 124 km and should be around 1 hr. and 30 min if there is good traffic. The way back is also a toll free easy to drive motorway.
For 4 days driving a total of about 595 km I spent around $100 total in gas. To fill the tank it takes around $80.
And in case you were wondering there is a gas station literally one minute away from Jucy car rentals so you can fill up the car and give it back.