Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanoes. There are many great 2-3 day road trips to do from Auckland and this is one that I would highly recommend.
Departing Auckland travel to Papakura and head east to Clevedon and travel down the “Seabird Coastal Road” which takes you down the western side of the Firth of Thames to Waitakaruru where you join SH2 and drive to Thames. This takes you through prime NZ dairying country with herds of cows clearly seen as you drive along. Thames township is the gateway to the magnificent Coromandel Peninsular.
Thames was one of New Zealand’s early settler towns which attracted many people when gold was discovered in the surrounding hills in the early 1860’s. The coastal drive from Thames to Coromandel town follows the eastern shore of the Firth and is surely one of New Zealand’s most scenic coastal drives. In summer the rich red colours of the Pohutakawa trees are a sight to be seen as they hug the edge of the hills right down to the ocean.
Coromandel township is another early gold settlement town and is now home to many artists and craftsmen who live in the area. Shop around and you will find something unique to remind you of your New Zealand holiday. Stay the night in local accommodation.
The next day travel over the Coromandel ranges to the eastern coast. Passing by the beautiful sandy beaches of Matarangi and Kuaotunu arriving in the township of Whitianga with its sandy beaches, harbour and estuary. Again stay the night in local accommodation.
The Mercury Bay area has some beautiful beaches and plenty on offer for the day tripping tourist passing through. From Whitianga continue on south and consider a detour to Hot Water Beach where at low tide you can dig your own spa pool in the sand which is heated by a natural hot water spring. After your hot spa experience continue down the coast passing through Tairua with its scenic harbour and Paku hill.
Continue from here back over the Coromandel ranges to Kopu, just south of Thames and back onto SH2 and travel back to Auckland this time travelling up the Bombay Hills and from the top see the greater Auckland area spread out before you.
This is a great 3 day/2 night road trip with plenty of time for activities and photo opportunities. It could be done as a 2 day/1 night trip but you will miss a lot of great things to see and do.
Some activities to consider along the way would be; The Butterfly and Orchid Gardens in Thames, also walk through an old gold mine and see a working stamper battery. In Coromandel town the Driving Creek Railway on the outskirts of town is a “must do” as is a walk through the town looking at the various arts and crafts. When in Whitianga there is an extensive list of options, - visit the Lost Springs day spa and hot pools, take a kayak trip to the beautiful Cathedral Cove, take a ride in a glass bottom boat to a marine reserve, -dolphins are often seen in Mercury Bay, half day fishing trips-catch a big snapper, wine tasting, enjoy some great scenic walks and don’t forget to try the local fish and chips! Stop in Tairua for an ice-cream and take a walk around the beautiful harbour.
The Coromandel Peninsular, a short drive from Auckland, with a wide range of activities and amazing scenery is an easy to do trip and includes highlights of what makes New Zealand famous. It is here I should point out that Whitianga is a special place to me – my Grandmother was born here in 1902 and we have owned a small holiday home here for the last 20 years and we consider it our small piece of paradise on the Coromandel Peninsular.