We covered the Coromandel Peninsula, Egmont National Park, Wellington, and Auckland in this trip. The Coromandel Peninsula is a gorgeous area, full of lots of wildlife and beautiful beaches and coastline. It's an adventurous spot and a relaxing spot, ready for anyone who wants to take it on. I also loved Wellington, a great little capital with lots of delicious food and lots of swim-worthy beaches.
The peninsula has some gorgeous spots. We stayed a couple minutes walk from Hot Water Beach and loved the area. There were tui singing in the morning, and lots of little California quails roaming around. The spot is very full of life, being just by the ocean and a bit protected.
Hot Water Beach
Gotta search for the right spot, but with a spade you can dig in! The time to go is 2 hours before and after low tide, so check the tide tables. There is a little bit of engineering involved; I'd recommend creating a channel from the hot water veins to an area where you'd like your tub to be, and start lower on the beach with a wider area. If you're not interested in digging yourself, there will be folks who leave their tubs and you can snag a spot then!
Tides: Hot Water Beach Tides
Cathedral Cove in Hahei
You'll need to park in the visitors car park down in Hahei and either pay to take a bus up or walk. We took the bus and it was a quick ride.
The walk is quite pleasant and pretty much paved the whole way. There are some ups and downs but the views are wonderful throughout.
Stingray Bay - The best side detour ever. Saw 5 different stingrays in a 15 minute span while wading just a few feet into the water. We got very lucky, but it was still a worthwhile short detour from the main path.
Shakespeare Cliff Lookout was a nice way to end our time in Hahei, with a panoramic view.
- Official trail information: Kauaeranga Kauri Trail - Pinnacles
- Hike log: Pinnacles Walk Guide
Stop by in Thames before going to the Pinnacles; there are places to get supplies and some spots for breakfast. We had a decent coffee at Hi Stranger.
The DOC Visitor’s Center is good to stop into to learn about conditions up top.
Coromandel West Coast
The west coast is very much underrated in terms of beauty. There are gorgeous shallow bays with pretty turquoise water all up the coast, especially in Oamaru and Otautu up by Colville. We didn’t get to go all the way to the Coromandel Walkway but we got pretty close!
Coromandel down to Taranaki
Three Sisters and Elephant Rock in Tongaporutu on the way to Taranaki - amazing at low tide!
Egmont National Park - Pouakai Crossing on Mount Taranaki
- Official trail information: DOC - Pouakai Crossing
While I hoped we would have good weather, we weren’t so lucky and hiked mostly in rain. The trail goes through beautiful rainforests and really cool tussock and swampy marsh that has carnivorous plants and interesting terrain. I think it’s a great walk nonetheless and would recommend it as a place to check out! Just be very very sure to bring as much waterproof clothing as possible.
Turned out to be beautiful all three days we were in Wellington, and there were some great activities we did and things we ate
Kitschy name, but actually excellent. Tons of bush walks through the valley to see all sorts of birds. We saw Kaka, tui, hihi, grey warblers, robins, bellbirds, and whitehead birds just walking along and stopping every so often to listen.
We had a beautiful drive along the coast east of Oriental bay and down to Lyall bay. We chickened out of driving to the Red rock seals, but the coastline was full of awesome tide pools where we saw anemone!
Had some excellent bites here, notably August Eatery
- Loretta - excellent dinner food, really yummy porchetta and the heirloom tomato salad was great
- Swimsuit Coffee - New Zealand coffee doesn’t disappoint, possibly heated the milk a bit too much. But the scones we had for breakfast were surprisingly excellent, toasted with butter
- Chocolate Fish Cafe - great stop along the drive, simple and slightly eclectic food, but apparently an institution
- August Eatery - best food we’ve had so far on the north island
- Fidel’s Cafe - apparently famous milkshakes, solidly good brunch.
Just stopped quickly here. We were told that Kerosene Creek and Craters of the Moon were interesting spots, but we went to the geothermal spa instead.
Huka Falls is a nice, quick stop to see truly incredible volumes of water gushing through a ravine. We went on a particularly heavy day and it was quite a sight.
We hung out in awesome geothermal pools at Wairakei Terraces. Not as naturalistic but nice! On the road, we ate at Hearty As Dumplings, not authentic but solid dumplings.
While we were in Auckland, we wanted to try the Chinese food there. There are lists to look at and compare restaurants, but we really liked Huami for a nicer Chinese dinner.
- Waiheke - Contains vineyards and lots of little towns. I didn’t get a chance to look around too much, but it was recommended to me and should be a lovely place to visit!
- Rangitoto - Check the ferry timetable to be sure, but I think there's only 1 ferry over. The island has a beautiful volcano with a 1.5 mile hike through lovely lava rocks.
Both of the museums in Auckland that I went to were excellent. The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki had a nice exhibit of a local artist with a prolific set of works, and the Auckland Museum had some really interesting information on local Maori culture.
I think my favorite part of Auckland was the beaches though. They're beautiful in the summer and so easy to get to!
St. Heliers Lovely with a nice little walking path and benches under pohukutawa trees
Kohimarama Probably my favorite of the three beaches was Kohimarama. I loved that it was slightly less busy on the boardwalk and had just a few good spots to eat. Kohi Eatery was a nice spot to sit by the beach and have a decent lunch.
Mission Bay More populated, but nicer bathrooms and legit lawn space