Driving On The Coromandel Peninsula In New Zealand: A Road-Trip for the Soul

This week's post is by Matthew D'souza who is, in his own words: "a car crazy, football fanatic who also has an indescribable love for all things Italian. I am currently a uni student in the wonderful country of New Zealand which has been my home for the last 5 years though in the past, I have also called three other countries, my home. If you want to read more of my articles, you can follow me on DriveTribe - The Car Connoisseur."

You can also follow him on DriveTribe, Instagram and on Youtube.

the Coromandel Peninsula In New Zealand
Road trips, we love them, right? It’s an excuse to go explore some remote part of our country and see how much stuff we can pack into our cars. New Zealand is a country that is on the travel bucket list for a lot of people and I’m privileged enough to call this place home so if you’re ever travelling through these parts, here’s a must-do road trip for you!

First let me introduce you to the Coromandel peninsula, it’s a little bit of land in the North Island of New Zealand. This area is mainly known for Cathedral Cove, but I think the entire road trip is noteworthy! Unlike most towns in New Zealand where there’s only one way in and out, there’s two ways to get to the Coromandel town and I’ll be taking you through the more scenic route, naturally.

You’ve packed your things, checked all the fluid levels in your car and you’re excited for your trip, well let’s get going then! If you’re driving from Auckland or from the south of the island, that doesn’t matter but you must make sure you head towards Thames. Thames is a beautiful little town buzzing with coffee shops and muscle cars. It’s also got some pretty heritage buildings everywhere you look! It is also the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. I highly recommend that you spend a little bit of time in Thames, enjoy some of the restaurants and take in the sights!

Onward! From Thames, you want to head on to SH25 which will take you towards Coromandel Town, this road has also earned the nickname of ‘Thames Coast Road’ because it is a stunning coastal highway starting from Thames and ending in a town called Manaia. 

the Coromandel Peninsula In New Zealand
Unlike most motorways that only serve as a means to get to a destination, this piece of road is different, it is a part of the whole experience. The road is a narrow strip of tarmac hugging the side of the hills and it is the only thing separating the forest park and the ocean. My word, what a sight it is! The road is full of banked curves and it wraps around the hills beautifully. Don’t worry about missing the sights because there are plenty of stopping areas for you to enjoy the views. There’s also plenty of small beaches along the way. This stretch of road takes about an hour to cover and though that’s quite a while, you never get tired of seeing the open ocean around ever corner, it’s simply surreal!

the Coromandel Peninsula In New Zealand
Right, now that you’ve completed that scintillating drive you will have arrived in the town of Coromandel. I’m a big city kid, at a population of 1.5 million, Auckland is the smallest city I’ve ever lived in. I was then quite shocked to find that literally everything is within a 10-minute walk from the city centre in this town. All the restaurants are on the same stretch of road, so is the only petrol station in the town and so are the motels! Just the thought of that amazes me. The town was formerly a mining and logging town, so a lot of the shops have a very ‘Wild West’ salon type appearance. 

However for such a small town, the food on offer is excellent. During our 2-day stay, we managed to visit 5 different restaurants and were simply amazed by the great food on offer! One restaurant that particularly made an impression on me was Umu Cafe, we went there twice during our brief stay and tried plenty of dishes and desserts from their menu and there was nothing that wasn’t sublime. Seafood and especially oysters/mussels which are the local delicacy are a must try over here but their pizza is also excellent. And if you’re a backpacker or a tourist on a budget, this place is also very reasonable which also works in its favour.

the Coromandel Peninsula In New Zealand
I’ve travelled to several places around New Zealand but I never felt terribly sad about leaving that place the way I felt when our Coromandel trip had finished. The Coromandel tourism website advertises the place as being ‘Good for your Soul’ and oh, it is! I highly recommend the Coromandel region as a holiday destination- beautiful drives, exceptional food and gorgeous scenery make for an unforgettable experience and like me, you’ll be eagerly awaiting another chance to return!

P.s- Cathedral Cove is slightly overrated.

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