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Coromandel - Whakatane

Ingatestone, United...
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Coromandel - Whakatane

At the start of our tour of New Zealand, we're planning to spend a day touring around the Coromandel region (starting from Auckland), but are doing a flight to White Island from Whakatane at 10am the next morning.

Does anyone have any suggestions of a good area to stay after our day in the Coromandel which will have good access to Whakatane the next day (max 1.5 hours drive)?

New Zealand
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1. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

polarbear depending on how much of the Coromandel you want to see and whether by tour you mean drive that will be a VERY long day!

I would stay in Mt Maunganui for the night a little over an hour from Whakatane straight along the coastline.

Back to the Coromandel- if you're wanting to drive the circuit, up the west coast, down the east it would take at least 5 hours with only a few short stops and that's just the Peninsula then you'd have to allow for the 2 hours from Auckland and two hours to The Mount (these times are a little exaggerated to allow for the very winding road, gravel in one section, weather & traffic)

You are best to cut across the bottom from Kopu on SH25a and head up the east side, maybe to Tirua then back down stopping at Whangamata and Waihi on the way. Depending on your time you may get to Hahei & Hot Water Beach but it will mean back tracking quite a way. Really the beaches from the top of the Coromandel all the way to Whakatane are fabulous and you won't miss too much. leave enough time to enjoy the Mount, the beautiful golden sand beach here stretches for dozens of kms to Whakatane and beyond!

TAS
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2. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

Having tried to do a similar trip in reverse a few weeks ago, we would agree totally with Zappers suggestions.

The Coromandel roads are generally very narrow, incredibly winding and one needs to approach every corner with extreme caution as there was a lot of heavy semi-trailer vehicles (transports, log trucks, gravel trucks) and apparently locals in cars whose drivers were pushing the limits re safety with the speeds they were driving. We came across one vehicle very badly damaged and upside down on one of the sharp corners on SH25A. According to the papers the next day, the driver's injuries were not life threatening but judging from the wreck he was very lucky. There were also significant number of places with 30kph speed restrictions due to roadworks which also slows one down.

Do not underestimate the fatigue factor that will come with the intense concentration that it will take to safely negotiate these roads.

From what we saw, we felt that whilst there were some beautiful areas, the tortuous drive was not really worth the time it took to get around the Coromandel Peninsula.

New Zealand
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3. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

Very well said Jen, very well said!! I can see I'll be rolling your post out from time to time :)

TAS
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4. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

for Zappers

We were disappointed that we allowed ourselves to be seduced by the Coromandel Tourist information brochures into attempting the circumnavigation exercise that we ultimately cut short because of the winding roads, traffic and ultimately driver fatigue. I am an experienced driver and regularly drive long distances but I found the Coromandel roads very challenging.

What I forgot to mention in the previous post was that in one location on the west side between Thames and Coromandel, a truck and two cars heading north were confronted at one very sharp bend by a log truck heading south. The road was so narrow and the curves so tight that the northbound truck / cars had to reverse about 200 meters back to a wider section of road to allow the log truck sufficient room to negotiate that part of the road….and this was on one of the better parts of the road.

In our opinion the freely available brochures and maps at the NZ I-Sites fail miserably to emphasize the real road, driving conditions, weather impacts and driver fatigue factor impacts for unfamiliar tourists visiting such areas.

In retrospect, we should have stayed longer in the Mt Manganui / Tauranga area and have gone direct from there to Auckland bypassing the Coromandel.

Rob

New Zealand
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5. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

Sorry Rob- had a 50/50 chance of getting it right :)

It's music to my ears reading your post. From time to time when I'm answering Coromandel queries I think am I being too cautious, putting the "fear of god" into visitors and being guilty of over-stating driving times etc. Sometimes I think I am pushing the point too much and "really it can't be that bad, can it?" But pre-warned is pre-armed and I feel it's better to have a little spare time up your sleeve than feel the extra pressure of trying to meet deadlines and then driving dangerously.

As a Kiwi I don't think the road is actually too bad, just too winding, I've been on worse roads, but a good portion of NZers are used to driving in these conditions, you'll also be aware that we're not a very tolerant bunch and tend to tailgate the slower drivers. Most locals will know the road like the back of their hands and while some of their moves may seem dangerous to outsiders it's not necessarily so- of course we do have more than our fair share of idiot drivers out there as well.

I've backed up many times on narrow country roads(not just the Coromandel either) to let trucks through, it's a fact of life with no rail system to speak of and lots of isolated farms and forestry needing cartage. It can give you a huge fright when you suddenly round a sharp bend to be confronted by a logging truck taking up the whole road!

You'll see from a forum search the locals here are trying to do what the brochures are obviously not- we all push the driving conditions and times every chance we get!

Ingatestone, United...
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6. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

Thanks guys - I think we'll miss out the Coromandel region then, and spend more of a leisurely time travelling towards Whakatane.

Would Mount Maunganui / Tauranga still be a good place to stay or would you suggest carrying on further and staying closer to Whakatane? Any recommendations for places to stay (budget of up to NZ$250pn) would be appreciated!

New Zealand
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7. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

There are only small seaside settlements between the Mount and Whakatane so I think the Mount would be an ideal place to overnight.

Here's probably the best place to stay, especially if you get a ocean view room. The Oceanside is right at the base of the mounat on the main beach, across from the hot pools and a short walk from the inne harbour , downtown and restaurants.

http://www.oceanside.co.nz/

Have a look at my inside page on travelling the coastal road from Auckland, there's some good tips on places to stop. You will cross over the base of the Coromandel through the Karangahake Gorge and you could also do a 10 min detour out to Waihi Beach on your way through too.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g255104-c3825/New-Zea…

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g255104-c3825/New-Zea…

Montreal
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8. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

I spent three weeks in New Zealand a few months ago - driving North and South Islands. The first place we visited was Hahei, on the Coromandel peninsula, and it was easily one of the highlights of our trip. Yes, I agree with all that is said here about the roads- you need lots of time and a good nights sleep the night before! But it was worth every second for the beautiful beaches, and the stunning Cathedral Cove.

In fact, since my boyfriend and I returned, it has been the place we've talked about and missed the most, and our main reason for wanting to visit again is to go back to Coromandel. So I'd hate to hear people avoiding it, you just have to be aware that it absolutely cannot be rushed. We left Auckland around 10am, and barely made it for our sea kayaking at 2:00- so lesson learned! It is a beautiful drive through the tropical Coromandel range, with lots of hair pin turns, but overall, it added to the experience to see those crazy kiwi drivers in action!

Anyway, everyone needs to prioritize, so if you don't have time or can only make it to Coromandel in a rush, then yeah I'd skip it. But if you have 4-5 hours to give yourself to drive there, it's a very special memorable place.

9. Re: Coromandel - Whakatane

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