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The most brilliant hikes in the Coromandel

Join us as we share the best tried-and-tested walks on the Coromandel Peninsula – with something to suit all timeframes and levels of fitness!

Hiking is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

Whether you’re a fan of volcanic landscapes, beautiful coastlines, lush native bush or mountain ranges, this country has it all. 

Though some regions, particularly those in the South Island, are well-known for spectacular walking tracks, you’ll find beautiful walks all around Aotearoa NZ – including the Coromandel.

The Coromandel Peninsula is located on the east coast of the North Island.

Only a stone’s throw away from Auckland, this region is known for its laid-back atmosphere, temperate climate (hello, winter hiking!) and white sand beaches.

Whether you’re looking for a short walk, the best multi-day hikes or a trip to some of the region’s best waterfalls, this guide is here to help!

Plan your trip to the Coromandel with hiking recommendations, accommodation suggestions, a guide to what to pack on a hike in New Zealand and more….

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Our favourite Coromandel walks and hikes

Easy walks

New Chums Beach

Time1 hour return
Distance5km return
Nearest townWhangapoua (small town) or Whitianga (large town)

New Chums is a real hidden gem.

Nestled around the corner from Whangapoua Beach, this beautiful beach is only accessible by foot or boat. Because of this, this incredible beach can feel fairly private compared to ones that are easier to access.

To get there, park your car at Whangapoua Beach and begin walking from the north end of the beach.

You’ll soon reach a stream you must cross (on the beach) – we recommend wearing hiking sandals or taking your shoes off here unless you want wet feet for the rest of the day!

Once you reach the other side, follow the rocky shoreline to the bush, where you’ll meet the start of the track which hugs the shoreline.

As you get close to New Chums Beach you’ll pop up and over a little peninsula.

We suggest turning right at the fork and making the climb to the lookout.

This is an iconic photo spot, looking down on the beach – and though it’s a little scramble, it’s suitable for most adults and confident kids.

Then when you’re done, continue down to the beach for some fun in the sun (while remembering to slip, slop, slap).

Pro tip: Don’t try to tackle this hike at high tide. The best time to do this walk is approximately two hours on either side of low tide, otherwise you may not be able to cross the stream on Whangapoua Beach.

We suggest you take a packed lunch and a picnic rug (although we’ve seen people carrying everything from chilly bins and umbrellas to BBQs and beach chairs!) for the ultimate day out.

There’s really no better way to while away the day than sitting underneath the shady pōhutukawa trees, taking an occasional dip to cool off.

Wentworth Valley Falls

Time1.5 – 2 hours return
Distance6km return
Nearest townWhangamata

Wentworth Valley Falls is a beautiful little waterfall that’s accessible to most people.

To get there, follow SH 25 from Waihi for 27km before reaching Wentworth Valley Road. Park your car in the car park (where you’ll find toilets and a picnic area, too) and start your hike from the DOC campsite (which is perfect for anyone staying overnight).

From there, follow the track through Coromandel Forest Park and along the Wentworth River for approximately 3km. You’ll encounter two bridge crossings before you reach the waterfall viewing platform at the end of the track. 

If you visit in the summer, there are plenty of places to stop off to cool down and swim, or take in the views over a packed lunch. Delicious.

Owharoa Falls, Karangahake Gorge

Time10 minutes return
Distance400m return
Nearest townPaeroa and Waihi (it’s in the Karangahake Gorge)

One of our favourite things about living in New Zealand is that you’re never far from amazing sights like these.

Just 200m from the main, Owharoa Falls is about as low effort, big reward as you get!

To get there, turn off State Highway 2 onto Waitawheta Road and follow the road for about 150 to 200m.

Unlike the other walks on this list, you won’t find a proper carpark – but there is a small area where you can leave your car. It often gets jam-packed, so be careful and watch for people crossing.

Follow the track down from the roadside for 200m until you reach the waterfall.

It’s a very popular spot for swimming and photos, so bring your togs & camera!

If you have time, we recommend combining this waterfall visit with one of the other Karangahake Gorge walks (which are included later in this article).

Cathedral Cove

Time1 – 1.5 hours return
Distance2.5km return
Nearest townHahei

⛔️ Must-know information: Due to Cyclone Gabriel, the track to Cathedral Cove is currently closed and will not reopen for summer 2024. The only way to get here at the moment is via boat. Keep an eye out on the official DOC website for updates.

Perhaps one of the most popular walks in New Zealand, Cathedral Cove is a Kiwi icon and a must-do for anyone travelling to the Coromandel. 

From the carpark, follow the well-paved track from Hahei down to Gemstone Bay. Continue walking along the coast, through pine forest and bushland, before descending to the water. There are many steps down to the beach itself, so we recommend this was for people with a reasonable level of fitness – and leave the pushchair in the car.

Once you arrive at the beach, you’ll be greeted by the jaw-dropping natural rock arch that joins two beaches at Cathedral Cove.

Seriously, stunning doesn’t come close to summing this place up!

Spend the afternoon baking in the sun, swimming and exploring before returning to the carpark via the same track. 

Alternatively, you can kayak or take a boat from neighbouring bays if you don’t fancy the hike. 

When you finish, stop at Hahei General Store for coffee or one of their ginormous real fruit ice creams.

You can thank us later. 

Waiau Kauri Grove

Time30 minutes return
Distance1km return
Nearest townPaeroa and Waihi

This short walking track combines three of our favourite things – waterfalls, the outdoors and NZ native bush.

Leave Coromandel Town and head south on the 309 Road to the beginning of the Waiau Falls Track.

If you just want to see Waiau Falls, they’re actually visible from the roadside, approximately 7km along the 309 Road.

But I REALLY recommend you see Waiomu Kauri Grove too!

Drive another 1km down the road, and once you arrive, park your car on the roadside.

Then, head just 500m along the track deep into native bush. The boardwalk will take you through the most extensive, easily accessible grove of mature kauri in the region.

It’s a must-do for any nature lover. 

Pro tip: The 309 is a long, gravel road that joins the east and west sides of the Coromandel. It’s windy in sections, so take care and factor extra travel time into your day.

Moderate walks

The Coromandel Coastal Walk

Time7 hours return
Distance20km return
Nearest townCoromandel Town

If you love the coast (and who doesn’t?), then this one’s for you.

Named one of the best day walks in New Zealand, the Coromandel Coastal Track gives you a chance to stretch your legs AND take in the jaw-dropping beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula. 

To get there, start in Coromandel Town and follow Colville Road north for 31km to Colville Bay. Then, take Port Jackson Road for 30km to Fletcher Bay.

Pro tip: Port Jackson Road is gravel and bumpy, so make sure you factor in extra travel time.

We recommend starting your walk from Fletcher Bay DOC Campsite – which just happens to be one of our favourite camping spots in Aotearoa New Zealand.

You’ll walk through farmland before passing under the shadows of Mount Moehau, through pristine native bush and along the coastline.

Before I set out along the Coromandel Coastal Walk, I checked DOC’s website to scope out the track, and they lulled me into a false sense of security with words like ‘easy gradient’, ‘one short, steep section’, and ‘relaxing walk’.

This track is not the most difficult on our list of North Island hikes, but it’s certainly not as easy as others have described!

Be prepared for a long day and plenty of steep sections.

Although it’s not easy, the Coromandel Coastal Walk is one of the most phenomenal hikes on the North Island.

Make sure to take a decent packed lunch and lots of water – the views you are rewarded with are well worth your efforts!

The Pinnacles (The Kauaeranga Kauri Trail)

Time6 hours return
Distance14km return
Nearest townThames

The Kauaeranga Kauri Trail (more commonly known as ‘The Pinnacles’) is one of the best short, overnight hikes in New Zealand.

Famous for sunrises and sunsets at the summit, The Pinnacles track follows an old kauri logging route, undulating through native bush until you reach the summit. 

If you’re pressed for time, you can walk up and down The Pinnacles in one day. As a day walk, you’ll need to allow about 6 hours, plus time for lunch and photos.

I’ve done it this way from Auckland before, and it’s doable but tiring. Definitely take lots of water, food and sunblock. 

If that sounds too much in one day, you can tackle The Pinnacles over a weekend and spend the night at the large Pinnacles DOC hut.

If you love an early morning cuppa and a view, this is the option for you!

From the carpark, the hut is about three hours’ walk, plus an optional 45 minutes for the ascent up to the top.

We recommend you head up to the summit for sunset or sunrise (or both) with a hot flask of something delicious – this is NZ at its best.

We especially recommend The Pinaccles for people that are new to overnight tramps and for families keen to challenge themselves (in a manageable way).

Add this one to your NZ itinerary immediately!

Varying difficulty

Karangahake Gorge

Time & distanceMany different walks of various degrees and lengths 
Nearest townPaeroa and Waihi

The Karangahake Gorge isn’t a single walk but an area in Coromandel that combines gold mining history and stunning natural beauty. 

Located on SH2 between Paeroa and Waihi, the Karangahake Gorge is one of our favourite parts of any local road trip. We look forward to driving through it whenever we head south out of Auckland to the Coromandel. 

The walkway take you through old gold mining tunnels, across swing bridges and along one of the region’s most gorgeous stretches of river.

It’s also home to a section of the Hauraki Rail Trail and many accompanying cyclists.

Some of our favourite hiking tracks there are:

  • Karangahake Tunnel Walk 
  • Windows Walk 
  • Owharoa Falls (which we introduced you to earlier in this article)

Plus, if you want to stay overnight, you can set up camp at Dickeys Flat DOC Campsite.

A visit to the gorge really is a no-brainer.

Planning your visit to the Coromandel

How to get to the Coromandel 

Driving is the easiest way to get to the Coromandel.

A car allows maximum flexibility and ensures you don’t miss anything on the way.

Drive times from:

  • Auckland: 3 hours
  • Hamilton: 1.5 hours
  • Tauranga: 1.5-2 hours (don’t underestimate the winding roads!)
  • Napier: 5-6 hours
  • New Plymouth: 6 hours
  • Wellington: 8 hours

If you don’t already have a car, you can rent a discounted one for your trip.

Where to stay in the Coromandel

Choosing where to stay in the Coromandel will ultimately depend on your budget, location and whether you have a taste for the finer things in life.

If you want to hike the Coromandel Coastal Walk, your location will vastly differ from if you’re going to hike The Pinnacles. 

However, my favourite places to stay are always campsites or in Airbnbs.

If renting an Airbnb, I recommend staying in Whitianga, Hahei or Coromandel Town. These towns are all within driving distance of the walks listed, offering fantastic amenities like pubs, cafes, supermarkets and petrol stations (not to mention incredible beaches!)

If you’re camping or visiting New Zealand with a camper van, then campsites are the way to go!

We love Shelly Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park [which we have an NZTT discount for] , Cooks Beach Holiday Park, Whangapoua Holiday Park, Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, Hahei Beach Resort, Port Jackson DOC Campsite and Fletcher Bay DOC Campsite. 

These range from $15-$60 per person per night and have varying facilities from cold showers and long drops (at the DOC campsites) to full kitchens, common rooms and swimming pools. 

What to pack before hiking in New Zealand 

New Zealand is famous for having ‘four seasons in one day’.

The weather here is variable and can change without warning, so whenever you go hiking, it’s best to be prepared! 

Ultimately, your packing list will depend on the time of year you visit, how ‘fashion-focused’ you tend to be and whether you’ll be spending much time hiking overnight.

Here’s the packing list I use when setting out on day hikes in the Coromandel.

Feel free to personalise depending on your persnal preferences and the time of year you visit…

  • Your hiking clothes (shorts, a T-shirt and good quality socks for the summer months. Add a base layer and pants/trousers if you visit in the winter.
  • A good hiking backpack – I use the Osprey Talon 22, which never disappoints me.
  • A hydration bladder or water bottle.
  • Sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat or cap (this is SO important as the sun in New Zealand is powerful.)
  • Sunglasses.
  • A base layer or fleece in case you get caught in the cold.
  • A rain jacket (this is a MUST).
  • A packed lunch and some snacks (I can never go past Whittakers Chocolate and pineapple lumps).
  • A portable charger for your mobile phone
  • Your togs/swimsuit and a lightweight microfibre towel if you’re visiting somewhere with swimming holes .
  • A change of clothes for after the hike.

Which hikes would you add?

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favourite hikes in the Coromandel.

It’s one of my favourite regions in the country and I can’t wait to tick more spots off my bucket list!

Are there any dream hikes missing on this list that I should tackle next?

Like this one…

The Collins Drive walk at the Broken Hills area is great. You can do it as a 2 hour loop or a longer loop if you climb up to the lookout. There’s glowworms in the tunnel which is about 500m long.

Fiona Caldwell, NZTT member

Let us know in our Facebook group – we’d love to hear from you.

Happy hiking!

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