Jutting into the Pacific Ocean just south of Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula has two coastlines with forested, volcanic-formed valleys lying in between. It feels a world away from the busyness of the city, despite being within a three-hour drive.
Heading north from Thames, the gateway town to the peninsula, you enter a self-contained region of quiet seaside townships, hidden bays, and alternative lifestylers who fled here in the sixties to create small artisan communities. Historically, the area was a hive of gold-mining activity, and although it’s not quite the untouched Arcadia it once was, its coastline and green hinterland still provide a sense of retreat.
Historically only visited by loggers and gum-diggers, a gold rush in the late 1800s brought miners thronging to the peninsula, and many of its townships display evidence of this lucrative period.
Thames is a prime example of a once-grand gold rush town (reflected in its restored 19th-century architecture) that now simply serves the local farming community.
Today, the peninsula’s main industries are small-scale farming, fishing, and tourism, but it also does a fine line in arts and crafts. The small townships here and the general laid-back lifestyle the peninsula seems to foster have drawn artists and craftspeople from across the country.
You’ll find furniture workers, textile artists, painters, glassworkers, potters, and even Maori greenstone workers and bone carvers. Many will welcome you into their homes or small galleries, where you can admire works inspired by the peninsula’s pastoral and coastal scenery. You can also follow a ready-made Coromandel Craft Trail.
Coromandel’s coastlines are distinct. Along the Firth of Thames, the coast is open and rocky. It feels much wilder than the tranquil, protected beaches of the eastern coast.
It’s on the eastern coast that you’ll find two of the peninsula’s greatest natural attractions. Cathedral Cove houses a lofty cavern only accessible at low tide. From its clifftops, you have panoramic views over the peninsula and the ocean, which is dotted with small sea stacks.
Slightly farther south, there’s Hot Water Beach. Dig a little into the toffee-shaded sand and you’ll quickly hit upon geothermally heated water that you can soak your feet in. You can explore both places on a tour with ‘Kiwi’ Dundee, a charismatic local guide, as explained in our New Zealand highlights guide.
Elsewhere, things become quieter still. There are still places on the peninsula that can only be accessed via unsealed roads. Here, the landscape has remained virtually unchanged for centuries.
Best time to visit
The Coromandel Peninsula is best visited between October and May, but is especially pleasant in November, when it’s breezy but warm.
Suggested itineraries featuring Coromandel Peninsula
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Coromandel Peninsula, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Coromandel Peninsula
Places & hotels on the map
Places in and around Coromandel Peninsula
- Thames & Kauaeranga Valley Coromandel Peninsula
- Waiheke Island 42 miles away
- Great Barrier Island 54 miles away
- Devonport 55 miles away
- Auckland 57 miles away
- Tauranga 58 miles away
- Waikato 66 miles away
- Bay of Plenty 68 miles away
- Warkworth 72 miles away
- Rotorua 89 miles away
- Waitomo 101 miles away
- Lake Taupo 124 miles away
- Russell 148 miles away
- Paihia 148 miles away
- Bay of Islands 150 miles away
- The Kauri Coast 151 miles away
- Kerikeri 156 miles away
- Tongariro National Park 161 miles away
- Matauri Bay 167 miles away
- Eastland & Gisborne 173 miles away
- Taranaki & New Plymouth 175 miles away
- Napier 189 miles away
- Hawke's Bay 196 miles away
- Hastings 198 miles away
- Whanganui National Park 213 miles away
- 90 Mile Beach & Cape Reinga 217 miles away
- The Kapiti Coast 278 miles away
- Greytown 289 miles away
- Wairarapa & surrounds 293 miles away
- Martinborough 298 miles away
Accommodation choices for Coromandel Peninsula
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Coromandel Peninsula. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Ideas for experiencing Coromandel Peninsula
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Coromandel Peninsula, and which use the best local guides.