Local Escapes

9 Of The Best Beaches In The Coromandel

By Avril Treasure

Whangamata is seen from a distance.

Turquoise waters, rugged cliffs, native flora and laid-back towns—The Coromandel is pretty much paradise. And with more than 400km of idyllic coastline to explore, it’s no surprise that the region is also home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches.

Found on the North Island, The Coromandel is a much-loved holiday destination for travellers and a gem for those who are lucky enough to live there. Explore the intricate rock formations by kayak, head out with mates on a boat to catch fresh fish for dinner, dig for hot water in the sand and pitch your tent by the seaside.

Just bring your sunscreen, hat, and surfboard and don’t forget to set your automatic replies to ‘out of office’—here are the best beaches in The Coromandel.

Hot Water Beach

Pye Place, Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

People enjoy Hot Water Beach at sunrise.Image credit: Hot Water Beach | The Coromandel | www.thecoromandel.com

Hot Water Beach is pretty extraordinary. If you head to the beach within two hours on either side of low tide, you’ll be able to discover underground natural hot springs that filter up through the sand.

Beachgoers dig to find just the right temperature (in some spots the water can reach up to 64°C) to create their very own spa pool. Shovels can be hired at a local shop.

The local iwi of Hot Water Beach, Ngāti Hei, kindly requests that visitors don’t eat or drink in the pools or leave rubbish at the beach. Be sure to only swim in the ocean if the beach is patrolled and between the flags.

Hahei Beach

2 Hahei Beach Road, Hahei, Coromandel

Image credit: Hahei Beach | Supplied

The pinky-golden sand at Hahei Beach, located one hour from Coromandel Town, is the ideal place to relax under an umbrella and read a good book. The beach is also sheltered—so swimming, fishing and stand-up paddle boarding are other great activities to do there.

If you would like to stay at Hahei Beach for more than a day there’s a holiday park and campsite right on the sand with all the amenities you need—it’s one of our favourite spots in the Coromandel to stay.

If you’re sleeping in your van, make sure you book a beachfront site. Venture to the southern end of the beach to see the Te Pare historic reserve, an ancient Māori pa site—the views from the headland are stunning.

Cooks Beach

Marine Parade, Cooks Beach, Coromandel

Cooks Beach is a 3km beach named after Captain James Cook who anchored there in 1769 to explore Mercury Bay. Cooks Beach has a relaxed seaside community that grows steadily in the summer months—who wouldn’t want to swim in calm waters and eat fish and chips by the sea?

Be sure to walk up to the Shakespeare Cliff Scenic and Historic Reserve for panoramic views and on to Lonely Bay, a secluded and pretty spot with pohutukawa trees.

Te Whanganui-A-Hei Cathedral Cove

Mares Leg Cove, Hahei, Coromandel

Image credit: Cathedral Cove | The Coromandel | www.thecoromandel.com

If you’ve ever Googled The Coromandel, chances are you’ve seen the famous picture of Cathedral Cove. It’s historically one of the most popular spots on the peninsula.

Due to storm damage, the track to Cathedral Cove is closed for the summer of 2023-2024 with beach access only via boat, kayak or water taxi. Stay away from the cliffs as there's a risk of landslide or rockfall and don't walk under the cove's arch. You can catch a boat tour from Whitianga Wharf and Ferry Landing and can do a three-hour kayak tour from Hahei Beach.

Wainuiototo / New Chum Beach

North End, Whangapoua, Coromandel 

Image credit: New Chum Beach | Morgan Guérault

You won’t find any shops or car parks near Wainuiototo Bay, also known as New Chum Beach. Instead, the golden sand is fringed with native bush and on a sunny day the sea is bright blue. 

New Chum often finds itself on New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches lists and it’s one of our favourites in The Coromandel. Beginning in Whangapoua Beach you’ll walk for around 30 minutes until you’ll reach New Chum Beach. Pack a picnic lunch, spend an afternoon there and forget about the time.

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Tairua Beach

88 Ocean Beach Road, Tairua, Coromandel 

The sun goes down over Tairua Ocean Beach.Image credit: Tairua Ocean Beach | Maximilian Müller

Situated across the harbour from Pauanui is Tairua Ocean Beach, an east coast beach that’s loved for its surf. It’ll take you around two hours to drive there from Auckland.

The waves at Tairua can be powerful, so if you’re a beginner this may not be the right place to take out your long board. Tairua Beach is also located at the base of Mt Paku, a volcanic peak that’s over seven million years old.

Hike up the short but steep track to the summit and see sweeping 360-degree views of Pauanui, Tairua and the estuary. The beach is also a great spot for surfcasting or heading out on a charter—try your luck at catching snapper and kingfish.

Te Karo Bay / ​Sailors Grave

Sailors Grove Road, Pumpkin Hill, Tairua, Coromandel 

If you want to escape the crowds, head to Te Karo Bay, also known as Sailors Grave, which is just north of Tairua. The beach is home to the oldest sailor’s grave in New Zealand, surrounded by a white picket fence.

Te Karo Bay is great for surfing and swimming and the Pohutukawa Grove Recreation Reserve provides a shaded spot for a picnic. There’s also a lovely scenic walk you can do from Te Karo Bay that will take you around the headland to Otara Bay. The walk should take you around an hour round trip.

Whangamatā Beach

107 Barrowclough Road, Whangamatā, Coromandel

Image credit: Whangamata Beach | MB Photography | Getty Images

Grab your board and hit the waves at Whangamata Beach, one of New Zealand’s most famous and best surf breaks, drawing in travellers from all around the world.

Whangamata Beach is located on the southeast coast of The Coromandel and produces both right and left waves for surfers to carve.

Be sure to kayak out to Whenuakura Island, also known as Donut Island to the locals, coined due to its unique volcanic blowhole, which encapsulates a blue lagoon in the centre of it. A treasure in the Coromandel, Whenuakura Island is also a wildlife sanctuary with native flora and fauna.

Otama Beach

Kuaotunu, Coromandel

With clear blue water, a 2km long stretch of squeaky white sand and few people to be seen other than locals, Otama Beach is our idea of heaven.

Located on the northeast coast of The Coromandel, it’ll take you about 20 minutes to drive there from Whitianga. Otama Beach is mostly underdeveloped, with only a handful of holiday homes dotted around the hills overlooking the beach.

Spend a few nights there and you’ll see why Otama wraps up our list of best beaches in the Coromandel Region.

Looking for more adventures? Check out:

Main image credit: Whangamatā | The Coromandel | www.thecoromandel.com 

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