The first thing we did after arriving at our cute wee BnB was sleep – we didn’t arrive in Auckland until about 8pm, so by the time we drove south, it was well on towards bedtime. In the morning we enjoyed a lovely provided breakfast, including gluten free toast and cereal for me, fruit, hot chocolates, juice… So good! Before heading off to explore the Coromandel.
The hardest part of the trip was how long it took to drive anywhere. We learnt a valuable lesson about the Coromandel – don’t book accommodation to stay in one place and then drive around to explore. One of the days we went as far north as Whitianga – about 40km as the crow flies, but more like 100km to drive (nearly the same driving distance as Auckland to Thames!). And then we had to drive all the way back for the night. Next time we go, we’ll get a camper van and move our way around.
We wish we had had more time at Cathedral Cove. It was lovely, and a long-ish walk (where I badly twisted my ankle on the last of the steps), and we didn’t take our togs for some reason. Having more recently seen photos of the beach there empty, and what the area looks like at sunrise and sunset, I definitely need to go back outside a busy time.
The most random tourist attraction we did was the Driving Creek Railway. Incredible views from the top, and the little track is so cute! Not particularly cheap, but I’d still recommend it if you are in the area.
It turns out that when its busy, and the carpark at Cathedral Cove is full, the next closest on-street parking is all the way back in town – a good km away. Next time, we probably wont bother going up the hill in the car at all if going in the middle of the day, it took longer to loop through the carpark than it did to walk up from town. Its not a large carpark – about 50 legal carparks and half a dozen bus / camper parks.
An attraction we weren’t that fussed by was Hot Water Beach. Finding a spot with warm (not scalding) water, where you weren’t at imminent risk of your neighbours pool collapsing in on you, and you actually had space to relax, was near-on impossible. And we were there in November – so not the busiest part of the year.
I’d like to go back, and ride a chunk of the Hauraki Rail Trail at the base of the peninsula, along with having a ride on the train at Waikino. The playground at Whitianga looked awesome, and it would be great to visit Whangamata.
Something you must do if you are in the area is walk or ride the old train tunnel that is part of the Hauraki Rail Trail, through the Karangahake Gorge. Its incredibly long, dark, intimidating, and awesome. The only problem is, when you get to the other end you either need to go back through it or around, and around is quite the walk.
The most challenging part of our trip was definitely the walk in the Karangahake Gorge. We didn’t anticipate it being either as long as it was, nor as hot as it was, so we had no sunhats and no water bottles for what wound up being over 2 hours, most of it in the sunshine. We certainly earned our lunch in Waihi after that!
The last thing we did was a stop at Miranda for their famous hot pools. I’m not convinced they were worth the money, and I probably wouldn’t take the detour again.