Coromandel Peninsula, NZ: are the hot spots worth it?

One of my stops on the North Island a few weeks ago was the Coromandel Peninsula. Its an area just to the east of Auckland (around a 90 minute drive). With only a day or so in the area, I made sure to stop by the “top spots”. When researching where to go, the main two places were: Cathedral Cove & Hot Water Beach…. so its safe to assume I made sure to stop by.


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If you are headed this way: RENT A CAR! The drives everywhere are gorgeous and filled with endless pull-offs.

Stop one: Paeroa

I stayed in an Airbnb just south of the peninsula in a small town called Paeroa. It is home to the famous Kiwi drink “L&P” (theres an L&P cafe, and a massive L&P bottle in the middle of town). But back to the important stuff, my air bnb; it was behind this adorable, rustic cafe called The Refinery.

I’m really bummed I didn’t get the chance to sit down and take it all in (I was running around like a maniac, no surprise). They had a wide array of coffee (which i had on the go), food and also a cute front courtyard filled with lots of greenery.

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Stop two: Thames

Thames is small town just on the southern west coast of the Coromandel. As you can tell from me above, I decided to have lots of fun being a marine biologist (my friends thought I looked like Darla from Finding Nemo, which i now can see).

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More beach sunset pics???? of course!!!

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stop three: Waiau Falls

The next day started with some gorgeous coastal drives (I highly support the western coastal road to drive on, here’s some proof).

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I decided to make the trip up to Waiau Falls. Whats very convenient, is its located just off the road; what is inconvenient, is its located down a windy gravel road that cuts through the center of the peninsula. The North Island really takes the cake with breathtaking trees (don’t worry South Island, cabbage trees I love you). Of course the renown silver ferns, and other ferns for that matter, never disappoint.

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is it worth the trip? I would give it a 50/50 depending if you feel comfortable driving down a loose gravel road.


stop four: Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is on the Eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. It is really easy to find with lots of signs helping the lost tourists, like me. It is famous for its “Cathedral” shaped rock formation (wow, cathedral at Cathedral Cove???), which paints the frame for a gorgeous white sand beach.

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What they don’t tell you, is to get to Cathedral Cove you have to hike up and down a winding path from the car park. Even though the walk one-way only takes about 25 minutes, I wouldn’t say its the kind of stroll to do in flip flops; the scenery is stunning so it made the steep inclines worth it. Of course being a tourist beach it is going to be crowded but the beach wraps around a bit so there’s plenty room to explore. What I found funny, was there was a water taxi that was around 15$-20$ per person and apparently drops you off closer to the car park to decrease your hike up. It was very popular but I was perfectly fine walking it (more money for coffee). I would block off at least 2 hours to do the trip, enjoy the view and walk back.

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is it worth the trip? 100% a must-see!


stop five: Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is just south of Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel. A hot water stream runs underneath the beach and is exposed around low tide; it is recommended to visit in the period two hours before or after low tide to feel the “hot water”.

(sorry I have no photos! I didn’t want to get my phone soaked!)

It was very crowded; what they don’t tell you is how small the area of the geothermal “hot water” actually is. So most of the foreigners (like me), who went to visit and try their luck, found themselves on the sidelines waiting for a group to leave to take their already dug-out pool. No it is not impossible, but I am assuming those who snatched a good spot in the sand got there well before the recommended two hours before the tide. On top of that, 50% of the already small geothermal beach area makes it difficult to keep a continuous pool of water. As you can guess, the sand caves in, or gets pushed in, or gradually builds up over time.

The pool me and my friends ended up snatching was a decent sized one but was further away from the water. The water was BURNING hot, so the family who dug it had the hot water streaming into a pool of cooler water farther down so it was kept at a more pleasant temperature. Once we had the pool, we were surrounded by those who didn’t have one and were looking for one. Safe to say there is a lot of competition and unneeded drama. OH AND BRING A SHOVEL! Most people didn’t want to share :/

is it worth the trip? Yes I do recommend going for the heck of it, but you have been warned.


As touristy as the Coromandel is, its touristy for a reason; I’m so happy I made the road trip.

I am looking forward to documenting my journey. All of the support so far has been amazing, so thank you.

Lots of love,

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