With the beginning of the New Zealand summer comes the start of a whole heap of public holidays stretching through to Easter. The first of which is Labour Weekend at the end of October. With 3 days off work I headed to one of my favourite spots in New Zealand – the Coromandel Peninsula.
Whitianga is great little town to base yourself for being in a prime position to discover everything the peninsula has to offer. The clue is in the name but it really is beachfront – no roads to cross before you are on the sands of Buffalo Beach.
This is the view from the hotel:
There are sunloungers available in the garden and the best part of all – a hot tub.
Find it at 113 Buffalo Beach Road, Whitianga
10am: Breakfast at HULA
Not ocean facing but only a two minute walk back from the ocean is Hula Cafe. They have a beautiful garden area out the back where we sat and ate our breakfast. Really reasonably priced and delicious food.
We sampled the scrambled eggs, porridge and the muesli and it was all delicious.
Find it at 5 Albert Street, Whitianga
11am: Drive to Cathedral Cove
Now, Cathedral Cove is a destination not to be missed when visiting the Coromandel Peninsula. You will need to drive to the village of Hahei which is around a thirty minute drive from Whitianga. There is no parking at Cathedral Cove but as you drive into Hahei, on the right hand side before you get to the petrol station and shops there will be a sign for the shuttle bus park and ride. Park up and the bus comes every 10/15 minutes. It costs $5 return.
The shuttle bus will drop you off at the top of a steep hill which is where the walk down to Cathedral Cove beach starts from. It takes around 25-30 minutes to walk down to the beach and it is paved all the way. It can be a little bit steep in places but can easily be done in flip flops.
If you are unable to do the walk down to the beach there is a water taxi service departing from Hahei Beach which costs $15 per person.
There is a huge limestone arch connecting one cove to another. Head through the arch and you’ll find this section of the beach is much quieter.
Spend as little or as long as you like at the beach. We stayed for a few hours swimming and sunbathing before making our way back up the walkway to the shuttle stop. Once we jumped off the shuttle bus we headed to The Pour House in Hahei to have a refreshing New Zealand cider and some fries.
3pm: Stop for refreshments at The Pour House
Find it at 7 Grange Road, Hahei
4pm: Spend the afternoon at Hahei Beach
Another stunning beach in the vicinity and a ten minute walk from The Pour House is Hahei Beach. Soft, powder white sand and a sky blue sea its the perfect place to spend the rest of the afternoon.
7.30pm: Dinner at SALT
With a setting right on the harbour, have dinner at Salt back in Whitianga. I had the eye fillet steak with peppercorn sauce, gratin potato, green beans and braised red cabbage. Ask for an outside table if you can so you can have a view of the boats in the harbour.
Find it at 1 Blacksmith Lane, Whitianga
10am: Breakfast at ESPY
Facing the sea, Espy Cafe is in a prime position on the waterfront. The portions are big so come hungry! This is a very popular spot so turn up early if you want a table.
Find it at 10 The Esplanade, Whitianga
Just around the corner from Espy is the cutest little shop called Cote Bleu. It sells a range of homeware including candles, wicker baskets and cushions.
Find it at 1 Monk Street, Whitianga
11am: Head to the Lost Spring
Whitianga is home to a geo-thermal ocean village called The Lost Spring. Booking is essential and you can opt for 90 minutes or a half day which is 4 hours.
There are a number of different temperature hot pools that you can wander between. There is also a spa there if you would like to have a treatment.
You can order cocktails to be drank in the hot pools and food is also available.
It costs $45 for 90 minutes or $60 for half a day. Cockails are extra and cost roughly $18 per cocktail.
Find it at 121A Cook Drive, Whitianga
7.30pm: Dinner in Whitianga
Unfortunately I can’t recommend the place where we had dinner which was Sangam Indian restaurant. The service was excruciatingly slow even though it wasn’t busy as they seem to prioritise take away orders over customers who are dining in the restaurant. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the food had been good but when it came we were very disappointed.
Day 3: Visit New Chums Beach
Voted as one of the world’s top ten beachs, New Chums Beach is a must do in this area. A 30 minute drive from Whitianga, you will need to drive to Whangapoua and drive right to the end of Mangakahia Drive. There is a small car park here and you need to start walking across the sand until you get to a stream on the beach.
It is best to cross 2 hours either side of low tide as the stream can get really high. Be prepared for wet feet or take your shoes off and put them back on when you get to the other side of the stream. There is some scrambling over rocks to contend with and then a walk through some bush until you get to the crest of a hill.
To the right is another path that takes you up to a lookout point. This is not for the faint hearted as it’s very steep and involves quite a lot of climbing and hauling yourself up using tree branches but I promise it is worth it for the view.
Head back down the track and walk down the hill to get onto the beach.
Afternoon: Head to Otama Beach
In the afternoon, head to Otama Beach. The drive down to the beach is just stunning. 2kms of pure white sand. access the beach via Black Jack Road and spend the rest of the afternoon swimming and sunbathing. Note there are no toilet facilities or water refill stations here so bring everything with you.
Eat: Luke’s Kitchen
Luke’s Kitchen is the quintessential beach restaurant, facing the sands of Kuaotunu beach. Super friendly staff and a laidback vibe, they are famous for their wood fired pizza.
Find it at : 20 Blackjack Road, Kuaotunu
Let me know if you try any of these places or have any other recommendations for my next trip to the Coromandel Peninsula.