Ace Rental Cars Blog

Coromandel to Mount Maunganui Road Trip

For a scenic drive through the North Island, a road trip from the Coromandel Peninsula to the Bay of Plenty region is a perfect choice. From ocean views to lush forests, there’s so much on offer here, so we’ve listed the best spots to stop and explore while travelling through. Starting in Kapanga (Coromandel), this small town offers a relaxed atmosphere with natural beauty at its core. Popular spots include The Waterworks theme park where you’ll find 70+ water-themed attractions, and Driving Creek where you can hop onboard New Zealand’s only mountain railway. Plus, history buffs can unearth the region’s gold mining history at the Coromandel School of Mines and Historical Museum. Ready to start your coastal journey? Road-tripping is made easy in an Ace rental car, so grab your keys and read on to begin your ultimate adventure.

  • Kapanga (Coromandel)
  • Whangamatā
  • Waihi
  • Katikati
  • Mauao (Mount Maunganui)

Coromandel - Whangamatā

  • Breakfast cafes
  • Whangamatā Beach
  • Kayak tours
  • The Little Gallery

Before you depart, take some time to explore Coromandel Town. From brunch favourites at UMU Cafe to build-your-own sandwiches at Weta Cafe, breakfast options are in abundance to make sure you’re all set for the two-hour drive to Whangamatā. Upon arrival, enjoy a stroll along Whangamatā Beach. Voted the best beach in New Zealand in 2018, Whangamatā is a popular surfing spot, with opportunities for kayaking and paddle boarding to the nearby Whenuakura ‘Donut’ Island. Named after the blow hole created by volcanic collapse, Donut Island is a hidden gem surrounded by turquoise lagoons and a peaceful spot for kayak tours. In town, discover the works of talented local artists at The Little Gallery. From paintings and prints to sculptures and ceramics, the gallery showcases pieces made by Coromandel locals, with art available to purchase if something catches your eye. Just next door, stop in at Chill Cafe for a quick bite before hitting the road again.

Whangamatā - Waihi

  • Gold Discovery Centre
  • Martha Mine Pit Rim Walkway
  • Spike’s Bricks and Models

After your beachside stopover in Whangamata, drive 30 minutes south to the historic town of Waihi. Here you can deep-dive into the region’s mining history with a visit to the Gold Discovery Centre. With three tours to choose from, you’ll learn about the process of turning gold into bullion bars, be guided through the modern gold mine site and try your hand at interactive displays like rattling drills and creating your own piece of virtual jewellery. You can even bring home some gold souvenirs to remember your time here. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, you can discover the goldfields on foot by bike with a self-guided tour of the Martha Mine Pit. Travelling with family? Kids and adults will enjoy a visit to Spike’s Bricks and Models. Spike’s boasts a collection of amazing Lego builds including themed sets and impressive pieces, with sets available to buy if you’re feeling inspired. Ready to continue your adventure? Your next stop is a 20-minute drive toward the coast in Katikati.

Waihi - Katikati

  • 80+ outdoor murals and sculptures
  • Talisman Hotel Garden Bar and Bistro
  • Katikati Bird Gardens

After crossing the border between Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, park the rental car in New Zealand’s ‘Mural Town’, Katikati. Named after the 80+ outdoor murals and sculptures in town, see how many you can spot during your time here - this makes for an engaging activity to keep the little ones entertained during the trip. For lunch, head over to the Talisman Hotel. Here you can enjoy friendly country hospitality, meals made from locally sourced ingredients and an extensive wine list - remember to always assign a designated driver. Take a seat in the picturesque garden bar and take some time to relax before heading out again. For a slower-paced afternoon activity, wander over to the Katikati Bird Gardens. With aviaries scattered throughout and in proximity to the wetlands, you’ll see native birds like the Tui, Heron, and Fantail. Plus, there’s accommodation available here if you’re extending your stay in Katikati.

Katikati - Mount Maunganui

  • Mount Maunganui Summit Walk
  • Mount Maunganui Base Track
  • Main Beach
  • Pilot Bay

The last stop on your north coast adventure is Mauao (Mount Maunganui), 40 minutes from Katikati off State Highway 2. As the name suggests, the main attraction here is the dormant volcanic cone, towering 232 metres above sea level. An explorer’s base, there are plenty of tramping trails and tracks here, and you can reach the summit on the 40-minute walk to the top. A challenging yet rewarding hike, the views from the top of Mauao are unbeatable. For an easier stroll, the Base Track is enjoyed by visitors all year round and is one of New Zealand’s most popular scenic walks. After exploring the mountain, cool off with a dip in the ocean at Main Beach or Pilot Bay, both offer up beautiful blue waters and a seemingly endless shoreline. End your coastal journey with dinner at one of the many restaurants by the waterfront, taking time to take some snaps of the view before the sun sets.

Your holiday across the North Coast will excite and impress every member of the family, and there’s no better way to explore than in an Ace rental car.

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