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Country to Coast: 4 days, 3 nights

Taking a country to coast approach this itinerary has been designed to combine adventure with relaxation. Heading south from Auckland you’ll overnight in the city of Hamilton, a bourgeoning artistic and cultural hub. From Hamilton you’ll travel through the town of Cambridge with its quaint ‘old-English’ feel and on to the Bay of Plenty. A popular stop for cruise liners, the area’s warm microclimate produces great marine activities and fabulous food and wine. Heading north up the coast you’ll reach the Coromandel Peninsula, a holiday hot spot for Kiwis and visitors alike with its golden beaches, superb fishing and diving, and laid-back lifestyle.

Leg 1: Auckland to Hamilton

Head south out of Auckland, take SH1 and the Thermal Explorer Highway towards Hamilton. Drive time to Hamilton approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

Hamilton options:

  • Take a scenic cruise on the Waikato River.
  • Visit the Waikato Museum for the stories of the area, interactive shows and leading art exhibitions.
  • Walk through the themed gardens of Hamilton Gardens – it’s like a tour of the world as you step from Italian Renaissance to English Garden to Chinese and many more.
  • Take advantage of the great shopping and nightlife – both are making a name for themselves along with the casino in this rapidly growing, cosmopolitan city.
  • Enjoy a tasting at Mystery Creek Winery, picturesquely sited on the banks of the Waikato River.

Overnight Hamilton

Leg 2: Hamilton to Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Head south out of Hamilton following SH1 to Cambridge and Lake Karapiro. Drive time approximately 20 minutes.

Cambridge Options

  • Pavement dining doesn’t get much better than at one of the many cafes in Cambridge’s town centre, or try the Boatshed overlooking Lake Karapiro.
  • Hire a kayak and paddle the tranquil waters of Karapiro – a leisure boaties’ dream.

Continue on SH2 south to SH29 towards Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. (Bay of Plenty)

Tauranga / Mount Maunganui options:

  • Go diving, swim with dolphins or just make the most of the fishing opportunities.
  • Relax in the hot saltwater pools with their lovely setting.
  • Visit Mills Reef Winery and sample some award winning wines.

Overnight Tauranga / Mt Maunganui

Leg 3: Bay of Plenty to Whitianga / Coromandel

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel, NZ

Head north east on SH 2 towards Waihi and the Coromandel Peninsula, well known for its white sandy beaches and bohemian lifestyle. Drive time approximately 2 hours 40 minutes.

Coromandel Options

  • Take a breather at the coal mining town of Waihi and check out the Martha Mine located adjacent to the main street of the town.
  • Stop off at the twin harbour towns of Tairua and Pauanui. Walk the beach, surf cast, climb Pauanui hill, soak up the scenery.
  • Walk to the inspirational and much photographed Cathedral Cove.
  • Dig your own private spa at Hot Water Beach – when it’s close to low tide.

Overnight Whitianga

Leg 4: Back to Auckland or Hamilton

Back to Auckland via Coromandel township or Hamilton via Waihi. Either option, approximate drive time 3 hours.