Ron Laughlin      The Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide

From Auckland, Coromandel, Down the East Coast Bay of Plenty & Hawke Bay

​​​​​​​​​I have created three different routes south one down each coast and one down the middle. It will be dependent upon your time here how you will want an itinerary created. Generally due to lack of time I recommend south to Waitomo Caves area over to Rotorua and/or a stop in Hobbiton then either directly to Wellington or to Napier then to Wellington. This is done in about a week allowing time in each area to experience the activities, etc.
Route 2 of 3 south - Down the east side:
So this itinerary let's get going south on route one out of Auckland stay in the left lane after Bombay and turn left on
route 3 toward the Coromandel and the East Coast. Good place to stop is at the Miranda Holiday Park.
It is a spectacular drive around the Coromandel Peninsula (Route 25) and one I recommend to everyone. Be prepared to find narrow roads twisting and turning going up and down mountains at the same time but well worth the effort. The coastal highway north of Thames is one of our favourites as is Coromandel Town.  Be sure to have a look in Gilla's Gallery in Coromandel Town.
If you really want to enjoy this part of the Coromandel check in with Jocelyn Strongman at the Coromandel Discovery Company. The website is at: Coromandel Discovery. This is the way to get the best info and trip in the area.
The place to stay in Coromandel Town is Shelly Beach Top Ten.
On south along the east Coast of the Peninsula the big areas to check out are Whitianga and the Hot Water Beach.

Located on the east coast of the Coromandel, Mercury Bay's main town of Whitianga has attracted visitors for more than a thousand years, since Maori explorer Kupe first settled here around 950A.D. But it was Captain James Cook who gave the area its name, when he anchored in the bay in 1769 to observe the transit of Mercury. Now an established tourist resort, the Bay's spectacular coastline is dotted with islands and its relatively sheltered waters are perfect for all water sports.

There is a large range of activities to enjoy. Buffalo Beach - named after the H.M.S. Buffalo wrecked here in 1840, this beach offers safe swimming, plus good fishing and shellfish collecting. Whitianga Wharf - the centre for boating and fishing activity, where you can take the passenger Ferry to Ferry Landing and Flaxmill Bay or the shuttle to Cooks Beach, Hahei, Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. Mercury Bay Museum - located in the old Dairy Factory, the museum offers fascinating relics from the areas past.

The places I recommend to stay is at:

​​ Sandy Shores in Whitianga with host Thelma Bailey.
It is an absolute ocean front holiday accommodation offering 3 self-contained apartments. A short walk to shops, restaurants, town centre or Whitianga wharf - connecting you to nearby Cathedral Cove, Hahei and Hot Water Beach.

Beachside ​​Resort is right on the beach and the edge of town and its main street. Gill and Russ Carryer are who you will meet.
​ there. Great hosts whom you will enjoy and what they have created.

The latest and greatest B&B you will really appreciate..................the Lemon Tree B&B. ​​Say hi to Mical from me. Great hosts.
​KI am a real fan of Whitianga for all the activities there. If you are taking a holiday to me this is a very special place. 

​Like good cafe food and coffee:
Be sure to stop at Jandals (right near Beachside Resort owned by Lawrence and Paula who have fantastic personalities and even better home baked goodies and more. PLUS a wonderful smiley team to make sure you enjoy your time there.
​ ​​Then you have a block away on the harbour - the Harbour House Cafe. Another cafe with top quality owners, Angela and Jarrod and staff. I guess you can tell I really enjoy the smiles and conversations with great people with my morning coffee. These two places will leave you happy and smiling and well fed.


Now on south to the Whagamata area, one of our favourites and a visit to the beach at Opoutere.
In this area stay at Kotuku B&B. Peter, Linda, Rosie (our friendly dog) invite you to stay with us in our Bed and Breakfast when you visit Whangamata or the Coromandel.

Homestay comfort with ensuite bedrooms - A self- catering studio unit - Easy access to the rest of the Coromandel Peninsula and/or Tauranga - Kayaking on the estuary or out to the bay islands - Swimming and surfing at the beach - Golf (two courses) and Bush Walks - A drive to Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.


From the Coromandel we catch back up with Route 2 at Waihi going toward Tauranga. One of our favourite parks to stay at is the Athenree Hot Springs Park. It is 23 kms to the town of Katikati.
To the East is the Tauranga Harbour and to the West is the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest.
In the Tauranga area we enjoy going to Mt Maunganui.

Here is the place to stay in this area: Te Puna Accommodation it is only 8 minutes drive to central Tauranga, 15 minutes to Mount Maunganui beaches, one hour to Rotorua & Whakatane, 1.5 hours to Hamilton and two hours to Auckland Airport. Handy to 6 golf courses, hot pools, horse riding, wineries, kayak & adventure park, harbour boat ramps and many other great tourist attractions and scenic walks.

From Tauranga then along the coast to the town of Whakatane in the beautiful Bay of Plenty. Stay in Whakatane at: Quayside Luxury Apartments. Featuring large & comfortable two or three-bedroom apartments designed to maximize the stunning views. Recreational area with gym, sauna and rooftop pool. Walking distance to all attractions or if you prefer a farm stay here is the one - Jim and Kathleen welcome you to their Leaburn Farm.

And what is there to do while in this area? Plenty................

Visit the live volcano on White Island
Scuba dive, fish, kayak
Enjoy the 3000 acre adventure farm at Tui Glen
Swim with dolphin and seals
A fabulous mountain bike park or visit the amazing maze.
Perhaps the thrill of rafting from the Aniwhenua Falls onthe lower Rangitaiki
Check out the night sky at the Astronomical Society
and don’t forget to stop for a treat at Julian’s Berry Farm.
There are tons of hiking tracks in the area
and for the golf enthusiast there is a large selection of 18 hole golf courses available.

And then on to a magnificent drive(150+kms) to Gisborne (see description and information above). Love their Museum.
From Gisborne it is south still on Route 2 where we get to Napier and Hastings region.

South of Gisborne is the community of Wairoa, a town the way New Zealand used to be as they say. It has history and tradition. Visit a Marae or go to Lake Waikaremoana in the centre of New Zealand's third largest national park.
If fishing and boating are your pleasure you have found a spot. Great place to also go for you hunters. Some of New Zealand's top fly fishing rivers are close by.

You may want to take your family to Mahia Beach or relax at the Morere Hot Springs. You can enjoy tramping, surfing, fishing or just taking it easy. it is a place that beckons those who enjoy the outdoors.

A`return to Route 2 then will then take you through to the North Island grape-growing region and the Art Deco Capital of the World, Napier, re-built after the destructive 1933 earthquake. A great place to stroll around the towns of Napier, Hastings and Havelock North and the wineries in the Hawkes Bay region.

From here it is south to Wellington. Check the other itinerary for the description of the area between Napier & Wellington.

Lots more comprehensive information in my book - check it out!


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