Auckland to Coromandel Road Trip: An Epic 4-Day Itinerary
New Zealand is home to some road trips of epic proportions. Thanks to the Cook Strait vehicle ferry, you can even conduct a full self-drive journey around the entire country.
However, a road trip over a shorter distance can be just as exciting. Getting to know a smaller region intimately can be tremendously rewarding.
Coromandel refers to both a small coastal town and the surrounding region. Though Coromandel town is just 168km from Auckland by road, a full-blown road trip around this region is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Check out our complete itinerary and start planning your Auckland to Coromandel road trip today. You can start out by booking a dependable Enterprise rental vehicle from our Auckland Airport or Auckland City branches.
How long does it take to drive from Auckland to Coromandel?
The drive to Coromandel from Auckland takes around 3 hours, chewing up 168km of road. This trip will primarily take you on the jaw-dropping Pacific Coast Highway.
However, making this a straight-line drive would deny you the chance to explore everything this area offers. We say you need at least 4 days to really comprehend why the Coromandel region is so beloved.
Auckland to Coromandel Drive: A 4-Day Itinerary
As this route hugs the coast, there's no doubt that it calls for a summer road trip. But residents of the area will be quick to tell you that it's just as stunning in the winter, especially if you don't mind slightly cooler swimming conditions.
This also brings the added advantage of less densely-packed tourist destinations. Who doesn't love having iconic sights all to yourself?
- Day 1: Arrive in Auckland
- Day 2: Auckland to Thames
- Day 3: Thames to Coromandel Township
- Day 4: Explore Coromandel
Auckland to Coromandel Overnight Stays
Our itinerary features 4 overnight stays. However, feel free to add an extra night here or there if you find yourself spellbound by a particular location.
Auckland – 1 night
Thames – 1 night
Coromandel Township – 2 nights
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland
Kick off your road trip with your arrival in Auckland. The largest city in New Zealand is full of amazing things to do, so be sure to make the most of your time here.
Here are a few of the most enjoyable things to get up to in Auckland:
- Waiheke Island: Waiheke Island is one of the most stunning locations in all of New Zealand, and it's just a quick ferry ride from central Auckland. It's an unmissable location for any wine lover.
- Auckland Art Gallery: Auckland Art Gallery has an impressive selection of permanent works and is often home to stunning international exhibits.
- Mount Eden: Trek to the top of this volcanic peak to enjoy unparalleled views of the beautiful city of Auckland.
- Sky Tower: Speaking of incredible views of Auckland, Sky Tower stands at an impressive 328 metres. Unlike Mount Eden, it also has an elevator.
Auckland food and accommodation
If you're feeling peckish in Auckland, some of the top spots to check out include:
- Sid at the French Café: Enjoy a touch of Parisian class at this stunning fine dining venue.
- The Grove: The Grove earned its entry on our list of the best restaurants in New Zealand thanks to its exceptional degustation menus. It's a sophisticated take on what makes New Zealand cuisine great.
- Sails: One of the most acclaimed seafood restaurants in New Zealand, Sails offers dinner with an incredible view of Auckland Harbour.
Once you've spent the day exploring everything there is to do, see and eat in Auckland, our top selections for laying your head down at night are:
- Roomie Apartment Motel: Located in central Auckland, enjoy affordable accommodation in this charming venue.
- M Social Auckland: Grab a room on Quay Street without spending an arm and a leg at the M Social Auckland.
- Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour: Live large with stunning views of Auckland harbour and luxurious rooms. It's the perfect base camp to enjoy New Zealand's largest city.
Day 2: Auckland to Thames
Once you've soaked up the urban delights of Auckland, it's time to hit the road. The great thing about this short but sweet road trip is that you don't need to stay on the road for hours to cover significant ground relative to your overall journey.
Auckland to Thames driving time
A straight-line drive from Auckland to Thames takes 1 hour and 36 minutes via State Highways 1, 2 and 25. Today's stop-over will add around 10 minutes to your travel time.
Hunua is a truly stunning feature of the region. It's home to the Hunua Ranges Regional Park, which is replete with incredible bushwalks, waterfalls and more.
Some of the most exciting things to check out in this area include the famous Hunua Falls, and the Tāpapakanga Regional Park, which is a stunning confluence of coastal and farm life.
If you aren't as impressed by the great outdoors, then the nearby New Zealand Warbirds Association is a remarkable collection of aviation history you won't regret checking out.
Arrive in Thames
Once you've explored Hunua, take to the road for another hour until you reach the township of Thames. Located near the mouth of the Waihou River, you're already on the Coromandel peninsula by the time you reach Thames.
Thames is full of fascinating things to see for students of history. The Thames Goldmine Experience is fun for the whole family, while the Thames School of Mines and Museum of Technology offer fascinating insights into Thames' past.
If you haven't had your fill of nature today, the famous Pinnacles Walk is the epitome of North Island beauty. If you can't get to it on day 2, wake up early on day 3 and get it under your belt.
Thames food and accommodation
You can grab some dinner at the following venues in Thames:
- Gastronomics Restaurant Bar and Café: This aptly-named restaurant offers a delicious take on New Zealand cuisine.
- Nakontong Thai Restaurant: Enjoy the flavours of Thailand via Coromandel at Nakontong Thai Restaurant.
- Royal Kitchen Indian Restaurant and Bar: The delightful flavours of this Thames Restaurant are enough to please the pickiest eater.
Thames is full of beautiful places to camp, but if you prefer to sleep in a bed, you can consider staying in:
- Rolleston Motel: With spacious rooms and friendly, Rolleston Motel is the perfect place to lay your head down at night.
- Grafton Cottage and Chalets: The panoramic views of this venue makes it hard to turn down.
- Sunset Motel: Enjoy a secluded location and budget-friendly prices at the Sunset Motel in Thames.
Day 3: Thames to Coromandel Township
Wake up bright and early on day 3 and get ready to explore even more of the Coromandel Peninsula. Your drive today is all about enjoying the stunning coastline of the peninsula's east coast (in a road-safe manner, of course).
Thames to Coromandel Township driving time
Driving from Thames to Coromandel Town will take around 1 hour to travel 54km on State Highway 25. If you choose to indulge in all of the stops we've recommended for today, they will add around 20 minutes to your driving time.
Waiomu is a gorgeous coastal town sitting less than 20 minutes away from Thames. It's home to the famous Waiomu Kauri Grove Walk. Kauri is one of the most beautiful and stunning trees in New Zealand, and this walk is home to the finest in the Coromandel Peninsula. Waiomu is also packed with stunning places to swim.
You don't have to travel far for the next stop on your journey. The Rapaura Watergardens is a jaw-dropping sight to behold. Venture into Coromandel Forest Park and step into a tranquil sanctuary replete with native trees, ferns, lily pads and naturalistic bridges connecting it all together. This whopping 64-acre private estate even offers boutique accommodation if you want to hang around for as long as possible.
Continue to head up north until you arrive at Manaia. Before you arrive in the township proper, make a stop at the Manaia Road Saddle and Lookout. It offers remarkable views of Kirita Bay and the Hauraki Gulf. Carry on to Manaia town, the bread capital of New Zealand. It's home to the Manaia Bread Sculpture and Yarrows Bakery, which is perfect for savoury and sweet teeth alike.
Arrive in Coromandel Township
Less than 15 minutes from Manaia, you'll find yourself in Coromandel Township. Coromandel Township is the perfect base camp for your journeys on the Peninsula. However, feel free to take it easy when you first arrive after your big day of adventuring. You can head over to do the easy Kauri Block Walk, or to Wyuna Bay for a pleasant event swim.
Coromandel Township food and accommodation
For a meal in the Coromandel Township, look to:
- The Pepper Tree Restaurant & Bar: The perfect place for a drink and a snack after a long day of intrepid adventuring.
- Weta Café: This charming location allows you to build your own sandwiches, rolls and bagels for a self-made meal to favour.
- Coromandel Mussel Kitchen: There’s no better place to sample the unique seafood of the region than Coromandel Mussel Kitchen.
You can enjoy stunning views at the following lodgings in Coromandel:
- Coromandel Seaview Motel: All bookings to this location include a daily continental breakfast.
- Coromandel Apartments: The Coromandel Apartments are situated at 4 different locations in the township or at the nearby Coromandel Harbour. Take your pick of a stunning place to stay.
- Hush Boutique Accommodation: These lodgings are nestled in the native bush, allowing you to partake in an unforgettable bucolic retreat.
Day 4: Explore Coromandel
When day 4 arrives, you no longer need to worry about driving towards your next accommodation. You can freely spend the day journeying through the Coromandel Peninsula, including the as-yet-unseen west coast.
There's so much to see in Coromandel that rather than create a hard-and-fast itinerary for day 4, we've simply listed out some of the very best stops. Geographically, this list begins by heading up north and descending down the west coast. See if you can squeeze them all in!
Begin by heading up to the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula and checking out Port Jackson, home of the stunningly beautiful Kaiiti Point. This beautiful outcrop offers a stunning look at the Hauraki Gulf. It's also just 10 minutes from the northernmost tip point in all of Coromandel.
Coromandel Coastal Walkway
Nothing screams Coromandel like the Coastal Walkway. Though the full track takes around 3.5 hours to complete, taking it on for any period of time offers stunning views and an exhilarating sense of being in touch with nature.
New Chums Beach
With no buildings, roads or infrastructure on its green hills, New Chums Beach has been voted one of the world's top 10 beaches for very good reason. Its totally unspoiled appeal, white sand and picturesque water make it an unmissable stop on your Coromandel road trip and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Hot Water Beach
Who doesn't love a free hot pool? Thanks to underground hot springs, a shovel is all you need to turn the shore of this beach into your own personal spa day. Find the natural springs opposite the off-shore rocks on this picturesque beach.
Make a stop in the town of Hahei and take on the Cathedral Cove Walk. This tourist hotspot requires moderate fitness to reach, but once you're there enjoying the sight, you'll be happy you made the effort. The Cove is also accessible via boat tour.
Shakespeare Cliff Lookout
For one of the best photo opportunities in all of New Zealand's North Island, head to Shakespeare Cliff Lookout. It primarily overlooks Cooks Beach, but you'll also be able to get a peek at Whitianga, Buffalo Beach and Mercury Bay.
Once you've finished enjoying Coromandel for the day, you can return to spend the night back in the township. If you're feeling up to it, you can even make the journey back to Auckland (despite all the incredible sights you've taken in, much of the peninsula is still within about 3 hours of the city).
Final thoughts on Auckland to Coromandel Road Trip
Whether you're a North Island resident or just here for a visit, taking the time to enjoy everything Coromandel has to offer is well worth it. This itinerary makes it easy to fit this region into your time in Auckland, so there's no excuse not to go wild and see everything it has to offer.
You can check out more incredible places to see on the North Island here, or browse even more road trip guides. To maximise your time in New Zealand's North Island and enjoy a stress-free road trip, grab an Enterprise vehicle from our Auckland Airport or Auckland City branches.