Kūaotunu travel guide: A hidden gem in the Coromandel

Kūaotunu is a charming coastal village that’s located on the eastern point of the Coromandel Peninsula. You’ll find it between Whitianga and Coromandel Town.

This quiet spot is a great low-key base to explore the area. Or, do as most people do, and pass through on the way to activities in other parts of the Coromandel.

You won’t find too many things to do in Kūaotunu but that makes it the perfect place to relax. Boasting beautiful beaches, great food spots, and jaw-dropping views, you’re in for a treat if you decide to stop here for a while.

It’s a bit of a hidden gem – but we’re letting you in on the secret.

This Kūaotunu guide will cover everything you need to know including the best things to do, where to eat, and other nearby places that you can visit.

A white beach in Kūaotunu where two young kids play on the sands.
Kūaotunu isn’t on the main tourist trail – but their loss is your gain. Photo: Ariel Ophelia.

Things to do in Kūaotunu

As Kūaotunu is so small, you won’t find many things to do here. However, there are a couple of things that may take your fancy.

Relax on Kūaotunu Beach

Kūaotunu Beach is undeniably one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. Boasting bright blue waters, white sands and spectacular scenery, it’s the perfect place to relax.

The water here is safe and shallow and there’s plenty of space to kick back and sunbathe.

And, as it’s right on State Highway 25, it’s an easy stop to make if you’re passing straight through town.

Try to combine a visit to the beach with a stop at Luke’s Kitchen if you can – more on that soon.

Blue waters crashing on the white sands of Kūaotunu Beach.
Relax at Kūaotunu Beach. Photo: Shellie Evans.

Book a stargazing tour

If you happen to be staying here or nearby, then we recommend heading out on a stargazing tour.

The most popular one is the ‘Galaxy Gazer Astronomy’ tour which lasts between 1.5 and 2 hours.

You’ll get to learn all about the southern hemisphere constellations and the planets by opting for this tour, making use of their high-tech gear and telescope. Plus, you’ll even get the chance to see ancient meteorites in person!

9 School of Mines Lane, Kuaotunu, Whitianga 3592

Did you know? Your stargazing hosts also run a B&B, so you can stay the night there.

The Milky Way Galaxy as seen from the Earth's night sky.
Enjoy looking up at the night sky.

Drive along Black Jack Road

Although not technically in Kūaotunu, Black Jack Road starts from the village. The road will take you all the way to Opito Bay (via Otama Beach which is next on our list), treating you to stunning views along the way.

Luckily, there are some places along the drive where you’ll be able to pull in and take photographs, so allow yourself some time.

Go as far as you like on this road. If you want to go all the way, it’ll take approximately 20 minutes to get to Opito Bay… we’ll tell you what to expect there shortly.

Head to Otama Beach

Otama Beach is just an 8-minute drive from Kūaotunu (again along Black Jack Road).

This stunning beach is another great option if you’re looking to do some sunbathing or take a swim. The water is calm, making it perfect for families and those less confident in the water, and the white sand, towering pōhutukawa trees and sand dunes complete the picture of serenity.

You’ll also find the Otama Beach Swing there. This is located toward the far end of the beach.

This bay is a great spot to take some photographs and to relax and watch the world go by.

The Otama Beach surrounded by hills and grasslands.
Otama Beach. Photo: Shellie Evans.

Spend some time birdwatching

Due to its coastal location, Kūaotunu is a great spot for doing a bit of bird-watching. You’ve got a chance of spotting a variety of birdlife here including dotterels and petrels.

Being so remote, New Zealand developed unique birdlife, quite unlike anything found elsewhere. Keep your eyes peeled in case you see a new feathered friend.

A little NZ dotterel on wet sand. It has brown wings and golden and white feathers.
A New Zealand dotterel.

Listen to live music

Luke’s Kitchen often hosts bands and live acts, so keep a close eye on their Facebook page – particularly during the summer season.

An afternoon or evening spent here, listening to live, local talent is a day well spent.

Did you know? The iconic Coroglen Tavern is only a 30-minute drive away. This spot hosts a number of festivals and live music events also.

A man playing with his guitar while singing in the outdoor.

Places to eat in Kūaotunu

Luke’s Kitchen

Luke’s Kitchen is one of the most popular restaurants in the area and is a must-visit. It’s a quirky place that’s known for its live music, awesome atmosphere, and epic sunsets right on the beach.

Boasting fresh seafood, woodfired pizza, and a variety of beer and wine, this place has everything you could need.

When we travel to the Coromandel Peninsula we go out of our way to enjoy a pizza here. We suggest you do the same!

20 Black Jack Road, Kūaotunu 3592

A pizza with so many toppings beside a bowl of salad.

Kua Kawhe

Although the lesser-known option in town, Kua Kawhe is a small cafe that’s situated in a scenic location. The breakfast options here are delicious and there are some tasty treats available too.

Aside from the great food, this spot also stocks a great range of local products – great if you’d like to take a souvenir or gift home.

20 Black Jack Road, Kūaotunu 3592

Different pastries served on the table with a cup of coffee between them.

Things to do near Kūaotunu

Kūaotunu is a great little place to visit even though it’s a sleepy spot.

However, there are plenty of other awesome destinations nearby that you can visit.

These are some of the day trips you can take from town, or you can include them on your Coromandel road trip…

Opito Bay

Opito Bay is just a short drive from the village, continuing past Otama Beach. It’s another relatively quiet spot and is undeniably beautiful, with its pristine sands and turquoise waters.

Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, take a swim, or head out in a kayak, this beach is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the sunshine.

Opito Bay is a 20-minute drive from Kūaotunu.

Tourists walking along the Opito Bay.
Opito Bay on a beautiful summer’s day. Photo: Graeme Churchard.


Next, we have the charming town of Whitianga which is situated along Mercury Bay. Aside from beautiful landscapes and culture, this town also has a surprising number of attractions on offer – for this reason, people often use it as a base while staying in the area.

Some of the best things to do here include taking a soak in The Lost Spring, joining a cruise to Cathedral Cove, and visiting Mercury Bay Museum.

You’ll also be fairly close to Hot Water Beach, where you can dig into the sand (within 2 hours on either side of low tide), creating your own temporary hot pools.

Whitianga is a 20-minute drive from Kūaotunu. Drive an additional 30 minutes to get to Hot Water Beach after Whitianga.

Two women dipping in the waters while holding cocktails.

Coromandel Town

Coromandel Town is located on the northwest part of the Coromandel Peninsula. Here, you’ll encounter a peaceful atmosphere, historic buildings and quirky cafes.

Some of the best attractions in this town include the Driving Creek Railway, the Coromandel School of Mines & Historical Museum, and Coromandel Zipline Tours.

This is another popular place to base yourself while on the Peninsula. We suggest going a bit further to the Shelly Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park though – it’s a coastal paradise.

Coromandel Town is a 30-minute drive from Kūaotunu.

Two green rail cars of Driving Creek Railway running on different tracks in the middle of the forest.
Driving Creek Railway, near Coromandel Town.

Cooks Beach

Last but certainly not least, we have Cooks Beach. It’s a popular tourist destination that’s known for its beautiful beaches, watersports, and relaxed summer holiday activities.

This is the type of place that kiwi families head on holiday – and you might like to too.

Some of the best things to do in Cooks Beach include admiring the views from Shakespeare Cliff Lookout, hiking to Lonely Bay, and heading to Mercury Bay Estate Winery.

Cooks Beach is a 50-minute drive from Kūaotunu.

Strips of bacon, bread, a dipping sauce and a glass of wine served on the table.
Enjoy lunch or a drink in the Coromandel. Photo: Mercury Bay Estate Winery.

Though there’s not a heck of a lot to do in this sleepy seaside village, we think it’s worth a visit for the views alone! Plus with beautiful beaches (that only the locals know about), and Luke’s kitchen, a fan favourite, don’t overlook this fabulous part of the Coromandel.

Have you ever been to Kūaotunu?

If you have, what are your favourite things to do?

We’d love to know – help spread the word in NZTT.

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