Must-do activities in the Coromandel
The Coromandel is blessed with hundreds of kilometres of rugged coastline, picture-perfect beaches, dense forests, colourful communities, and fascinating history. If you’re looking for things to do in the Coromandel, a taster of some of our favourites is below – and if you’d like further local tips on these or other local destinations, come talk to us here at Mercury Ridge.
Soak at hot springs
For a good soak, head to the family-friendly Hot Water Beach or the adults-only Lost Spring.
Hot Water Beach is a Kiwi Classic, with hot water bubbling up from below the sand. Heading to the beach within 2 hours either side of low tide, you take your spade (we have some at Mercury Ride for guest use) and you dig yourself a hot pool in the sand. Outside this time, the waves come up and wash the pools away, ready for the next batch of visitors with spades! This is a Coromandel must-do for kids and adults alike.
The Lost Spring geothermal pools and day spa is a place for couple-time and pampering. Set in native bush, the springs offer the ultimate in relaxation, with the added bonus of a day spa, and a poolside food and drink service. The spring waters themselves are ancient and pure: rediscovered in 1989, the pristine, mineral-rich thermal water in these pools comes from 669m below the surface from a crack in the bedrock.
Explore Cook’s Beach history
Cook’s Beach is filled with history: it is one of the few places that both Kupe and Captain James Cook discovered (Whitianga’s name was originally “Te Whitianga o Kupe”, or Kupe’s crossing).
One excellent local historic place to visit is Stella Evered Reserve: gifted to the Perpetual Guardian Trust by Eric Evered in memory of his late wife, this working farm overlooking the Purangi Estuary and Cooks Beach is open to the public. The reserve is accessed off Lees Road towards Hahei. Coromandel Paddle Boarding also runs a “ferry” service, via row boat, from the Cooks Beach side of the Purangi, across the estuary to the reserve. Wander past sheep and cattle and visit the ancient Pohutukawa (600-1000 years old) on the Purangi Estuary. The stream here is where Captain James Cook filled up his water barrels on his 12-day visit to the Bay on the Endeavour, six weeks after he landed in Turanganui-a-kiwa/Gisborne. There is also a forest recently planted to commemorate the Kiwi soldiers who died in the battle of The Somme in 1916.
The monument on Cook’s Beach is also notable: it marks the spot where Captain Cook’s astronomer Charles Green is believed to have set up equipment to observe the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the sun, as part of his mission (hence why the Bay was named Mercury Bay). These measurements were important to help understand the size of the solar system and be able to calculate longitude more correctly.
For more local Cook’s Beach history, head for the observation deck on the Shakespeare Cliff Walk – an information panel there points out all the places of interest and provides detail – and to the Mercury Bay Museum in Whitianga, which pays tribute to both Kupe and Cook.
Walk to Cathedral Cove
The walk to the famous landmark of Cathedral Cove is almost as beautiful as the cove itself. Beginning from either Hahei Beach or the track carpark (the latter is closed in summer), the 1.5-hour return track wends along the coast through native forest and a bit of farmland, with incredible ocean views, to finish in a series of staircases that drop down to the cove. Cathedral Cove itself has its iconic archway centre-stage: a walk along the beach takes you right through the archway, with views of the blue water and white sand framed on either side. If it’s raining, the archway is a great place to take shelter. Hahei is just 10 minutes’ drive from Cook’s Beach.
Wine tasting lunch
Head to Mercury Bay Estate, a boutique, family-owned local vineyard, to sip on a flight of gorgeous wines while overlooking the surrounds and bay. The range of wines includes varieties grown at Cook’s Beach and also from the Hawke’s Bay. Pinot Noir grapes do particularly well in Mercury Bay vineyards, so this wine is one to try. With an Italian theme, the restaurant serves authentic wood-fired pizzas bursting with flavour – and their gourmet grazing platters are also delicious.
Take a fishing charter from Whitianga
Whitianga is the gateway to so many thriving marine environments and fisheries including Mercury Bay, the Mercury Islands, Cuvier Island, the Aldermen Islands and Great Barrier Island. As such, there are many fishing charter operators that launch from Whitianga. Book a day out and land that epic kingfish, snapper, or striped marlin. While you’re out there you might even see orcas or dolphin, attracted to the fish in these abundant waters. If you would like help with booking a charter, talk to us here at Mercury Ridge.
Sailboat, banana-boat or jet ski from Whitianga
If fishing’s not your thing, there are plenty of other watercrafts to take you out onto our beautiful waters.
Experience a bit of history and jump aboard Windborne, a 62-foot gaff rigged topsail schooner that has been in action around the world since 1928. You can help sail the boat, or relax and look at the scenery and wildlife.
For a very special viewpoint, take a 2-hour cruise with Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga – you’ll be taken to Cathedral Cove, up to sheer cliff faces, pinnacles, other rock formations and sea caves. Floating above a marine reserve, the view down through the glass panels reveals a rich marine ecosystem – and if you like, there are snorkels and masks available for you to get into the water too.
For a fun and unique ride where you’re bound to get wet, throw on a life jacket and hop aboard the Banana Boat Whitianga. This long banana-like craft is towed behind a motorboat, and the trip can be catered to all ages and confidence levels – whether you want a bit of speed and adrenaline with your mates, or simply a calm scenic family tour out to Cathedral Cove.
Whitianga Jet Ski also takes you out and about into gorgeous local areas. They head to Cathedral Cove, Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve, local sea caves and wildlife, and beaches only accessible by boat. The guided tours have you riding Yamaha 4-stroke jet skis, either in tandem with your guide or driving solo.
Art gallery tour
Coromandel has a diverse and active arts scene, with many creatives attracted to the region for its natural beauty and its arts community. Why not check out some of the art?
The Lawnmower’s Son Art Gallery, Hahei
Set in The Big House, a 150-year old kauri homestead under a gigantic Moreton Bay fig tree, this gallery showcases some of New Zealand’s best artists of all genres and mediums – it’s a space for locals and artists to view and exhibit amazing New Zealand artworks.
Moko Artspace, Hot Water Beach
This sculpture garden, gallery and artspace showcases all types of New Zealand art from established and emerging New Zealand artists, from blown glass to mixed media wall art to paintings and prints. They are undergoing renovation but check their Facebook page for updates on opening date.
Bread & Butter Gallery, Whitianga
This treasure trove of one-off New Zealand artworks is now operating online, with some works showcased in exhibitions in local cafes and other attractions – check the website https://breadandbutter.co.nz/ for details.
These are just some of the many great things to do in the area – talk to us at Mercury Ridge if you’d like to know more or get help with reservations, we’re always happy to help.
This was the perfect venue for our daughter's wedding. From the panoramic views to the colourful, well-maintained gardens the Mediterranean feel abounds.
Carter, Thames, New Zealand
What a fantastic stay! Hosts are extraordinary welcoming, warm and friendly! We didn't feel like guests but rather as part of the family. Great breakfast,
A gorgeous magical "castle" on a hill overlooking Cook's Bay with hosts who define the concept of hospitality. We spent Christmas and Boxing Day
Jenny Backus, USA