Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most popular road trip destinations on the North Island of New Zealand. Renowned for its pristine beaches, stunning coastal drives, and Driving Creek Railway. There are so many things to do in Coromandel, that locals camp here during summer season for weeks if not months!
As for our family, we have chosen Coromandel to celebrate Christmas twice in a row now. Our baby at 10 months old had her first camping experience here, exploring her surroundings with curiosity. A year later, we’re thrilled to see her thriving in nature, and truly enjoying everything this peninsula has to offer. You can read about the best holiday parks and camping spots in Coromandel here.
In this post, we cover not only the top family-friendly fun things to do in Coromandel, but we also throw in quite a few activities that only locals know. You can find our family travel vlogs which include video clips from the attraction or activity for a visual guide.
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New Zealand Travel Guides by Region: North Island
Northland: Paihia | Tutukaka Coast | Whangarei Raglan
Auckland: Clevedon Coast | Matakana | Waiheke Island | Waitakere Ranges
Waikato: Coromandel | Hamilton | Raglan
Bay of Plenty: Rotorua
Taranaki: Egmont National Park
00:00:33 | Setting up our camp
00:01:13 | Cathedral Cove walking trail
00:01:38 | Gemstone Bay
00:02:11 | Cathedral Cove & Beach
00:04:13 | Hahei Beach
00:05:21 | Shakespeare Cliff Lookout
00:05:33 | Lonely Bay
00:07:12 | Hot Water Beach
A visit to Coromandel isn’t complete without a visit to the famous Cathedral Cove. Quite honestly, this place used to be untouched, and unknown to the tourists. It is now a lot more commercialised and packed with people during summer months. However, the landscape here is very unique and picturesque, it is well worth a trip down.
Coromandel Day Tour from Auckland Deal
The main car park to the cove is 10 minutes drive from Hahei. And it seems like all the tourists in Coromandel are flocking there during peak season. So expect to wait around for a car park if you visit during busy times. You can find more information on getting to Cathedral Cove on their official website here^.
The beach itself is only accessible by boat or on foot, so your options of getting to the cove is either with a boat tour, by kayak, water taxi from Hahei, or via a fairly easy and scenic 45 minutes long hiking trail.
Travel vlog: 00:01:13
The trail is not stroller-friendly, so we would strongly recommend leaving your stroller behind, and use a baby carrier instead. Although it’s a fairly long walk for a family with kids, but just know that you will be rewarded with beautiful scenery and sweeping views of the peninsula along the way. There are hidden bays off the beaten track if you need to rest and recharge, and we will list them below.
This Bay is a short 15 minutes hike into the Cathedral Cove trail. It’s known for snorkeling, so bring your snorkel gears if this is something you would like to do. There’s a snorkeling trail you can follow, but be careful getting into the water with all the slippery rocks.
Travel Vlog: 00:01:38
Situated between Gemstone Bay and Cathedral Cove, it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Coromandel. However, you will need to go through some seriously steep steps to get to this hidden gem. Keep an eye out for stingrays in the water!
Travel Mama’s Hot Tips
If you love going out and about and enjoy walks and hikes, we highly recommend using one of the Ergobaby Carriers*. The most important features to look for is padded straps, back support and a healthy sitting position for babas that are old enough to sit up. This will save you from exhaustion, back pain and have a happy baby on your back (or front!) We switched from a cheap baby carrier to Ergobaby, and boy what a life changer!
Ergobaby 360 Baby Carrier
We took our baby for a camping experience at Hahei Holiday Resort^ for 3 nights. We chose this holiday park strategically so we can stay as close to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach as possible. (Related Post: Best Camping Spots in Coromandel)
Hahei Beach is literally 300 metres walk from the main campsite. This long stretch of golden beach, quickly became a part of our daily sunrise / sunset walks.
Travel vlog: 00:04:13
Hot Water Beach
This is another highlight of Coromandel, dig yourself a natural thermal pool right on the beach. The best time to come here is 2 hours on either side of low tide, expect a very crowded beach during those few hours. Bring a spade, and find a spot where sand is hot! Befriend your neighbours, team work makes it so much easier! This has to be one of our favorite fun things to do in Coromandel.
Travel vlog: 00:07:12
Heavy Duty Wooden Kids Sand Shovels
Shakespeare Cliff Lookout
While you’re on this side of the peninsula, drive up to Shakespeare Cliff to check out this stunning panoramic view of Coromandel Peninsula!
Travel vlog: 00:05:21
This little sheltered family-friendly beach is right next to Cooks Beach. It makes a perfect spot for a quiet afternoon picnicking by the water without all the crowds. There are a lot of steps going down, but the path is paved and easy to get to. However, coming back up would be a bit of a workout for the dads, so be prepared!
Travel vlog: 00:05:33
Driving Creek Railway
Now on the western side of the peninsula, Driving Creek Railway & Potteries^ is a must-do activity for family with kids in Coromandel.
Kyra goes on a choo choo train for the first time to experience the wonderful driving creek rail and pottery! She goes in tunnels and climbs the Eye Full Tower! (Eye-full tower, get it?! Ha)
Following the windy coastal drive up to Port Jackson, we stopped at many scenic beaches and bays. One of our favorite is Amodeo Bay, where we had smoked seafood picnic bought earlier from The Coromandel Smoking Co^ right on the waterfront.
Along the coast, we discovered beautiful uncommercialised campsites like Fantail Bay Campsite^ and Port Jackson Camping Ground^. We got up close to a cow, and came back with my car sprayed in dirt! It was such fun day out, this has to be on the top list of things to do in Coromandel. We highly recommend a drive along the west coast of the peninsula all the way up to Fletcher Bay.
Spot Endangered Birds on Kuaotunu Beach
Kyra found New Zealand’s endangered bird Dotterel while building a sand castle on Kuaotunu Beach! Learn about Dotterel birds and how they protect their nests as we talk to a ranger.
Then come and check out the best wood-fired pizza place here in Coromandel – Luke’s Kitchen^!!
Whangapoua Beach & New Chums Beach
We planned to spend Christmas at New Chums beach here in Coromandel, but we were under-prepared. To get to New Chums Beach, you will need to cross the stream during low tide, and walk around the rocky shoreline.
Unfortunately for us, the tide was too high to walk across with our little one. So, we settled at the beautiful Whangapoua beach instead. The lagoon on the northern end of the beach is perfect for kids to play in. Kyra tried flying her very first baby kite on the beach, and Daddy Pau had fun chasing after her beach ball!
PYO Pipis & Cockles
Did you know, you can pick your own pipis during low tides at Whangapoua Beach! If you’re a seafood lover, you would be just excited as we are! This beach is a beautiful white sand beach great for a swim and some family fun beach activities. There’s a little dairy shop near-by where you can get an ice-cream or have your picnic on the dune where you can see the whole stretch of sand from above!
Always check with MPI Fisheries^ first to see how much seafood you can take per person!
Use a chilly bin or coolers to store them in cool water, leave them under shade to sift out sand for 2 days before cooking.
Rings Beach & Matarangi Beach
This pocket of Coromandel is less known to tourists, and our photos don’t do them justice. We celebrated Christmas here away from the crowds, but unfortunately in the rain. Baby Kyra had a blast drawing Minnie Mouse wearing her Peppa Pig Hooded Towel! She ran wild on Matarangi Beach with simple joy and laughter.
As most restaurants are closed on Christmas Day, we found The Dunes Golf Resort^ was open for some light snacks. Although we didn’t get to explore much of this resort on this wet day, we really enjoyed our dining experience here. If you decide to stay away from the tourists, consider booking this resort for your next holiday!
Also Check Out:
- Thames – If you’re driving in from Auckland, Thames is worth a visit. Especially if you’re camping across public holidays, this is a good place to stock up on groceries. Stop by The Wharf Coffee House & Bar^ for refreshment by the water, or pick up some delicious fresh seafood next door.
- The Lost Spring Whitianga^ – This is more of a romantic couple activity, so if you can leave the kids behind to a sitter, the Lost Spring would be a great getaway! Whitianga is the next major town about half an hour drive from Hahei. You can also catch a ferry from Ferry Landing across the water.
- Coroglen Sunday Markets^
- The Oyster Company^
- Ngatea Water Gardens^
- Rapaura Watergardens^
Don’t Be A Stranger!
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In the meantime…
How long would you stay in Coromandel and what would be your family’s favourite things to do here?