New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula is absolutely packed with gorgeous beaches. Think white sand, turquoise water, pohutukawa trees with bright red blooms, and beautiful seashells: you can find it all in the Coromandel.
While you may have heard of some of the Coromandel’s more popular beaches—like Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove—there are heaps of secluded, lesser-known beaches. Whether you’re looking for solitude or a social scene, there’s a beach for everyone in the Coromandel.
If you’re after a nice sandy stretch, you’ll want to head to the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. The west coast beaches in the Coromandel are rocky, while the east coast is lined up and down with white-sand beaches that look straight out of the tropics. No one seems to mention this difference in guides, and it’s worth knowing!
In short: venture east for pure beach bliss.
In this article, we’re sharing some of the best beaches in the Coromandel, from popular beaches to more secret spots. These are the beaches we love so much that we return to them again and again—and you just might find a favourite on this list, too.
So grab your swimsuit and let’s get to it… here are some of the Coromandel’s best beaches!
Map of the Best Beaches in the Coromandel
1) Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove is often considered the most beautiful beach in New Zealand.
Is it worthy of the title?
With its white sand, impressive rock formations, and turquoise water, Cathedral Cove is certainly one of the most stunning beaches out there… but it’s also SUPER popular (for good reason), so don’t expect solitude at this beach.
To combat the crowds, visit Cathedral Cove first thing in the morning.
If you can get yourself out of bed before the sun is up, you won’t regret an early morning visit to Cathedral Cove. Not only will there be fewer people than during the day, but you’ll also get epic views of the sunrise over the sea. Try to time it with a low tide and clear forecast to make the most of your visit.
2) Hot Water Beach
Like Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach is one of the most popular beaches in New Zealand.
At this beach, you can dig your own hot pool in the sand at low tide. A personal hot tub at the beach? How neat is that?!
Unfortunately, you’re not going to have this beach to yourself. This place gets absolutely packed almost every day in summer.
Again, our advice is to go early. Time your visit to Hot Water Beach at sunrise, and within 2 hours either side of low tide. Go with an expectation of it being busy… but the early morning hours will eliminate 90% of the crowds.
Where else can you watch the sun rise over the ocean from your own hot tub on the beach? Hit the beach in the wee hours of the morning… the early wakeup will be well worth it.
3) Lonely Bay
Ahh, little Lonely Bay… this is one of our most-loved beaches in the Coromandel. It’s small, charming and unpopulated – and just the ticket after a visit to busy Cathedral Cove or Hot Water Beach.
A 5-ish minute walk leads you to a perfect half-moon beach at Lonely Bay. Like Cathedral Cove, there are beautiful rock formations here, best explored at low tide. The sand has a beautiful golden hue and sometimes, it’s also covered in an array of shells. If the ocean is calm, it’s a fabulous place for a swim.
Bring your swimsuit and snacks, and linger for a while at Lonely Bay…if you want solitude while you relax at the beach, this is the place.
4) Whangamata Beach
Come summertime, Whangamata is one of the most popular beaches in the Coromandel. Heaps of Aucklanders have baches (holiday homes) in Whangamata, and its population soars from under 5,000 to 60,000+ in the busy summer months (especially the two weeks around Christmas/New Years). It’s also, of course, a haven for surfers when the swell is just right.
Outside of the busiest summertime season, though, you can enjoy the beach at Whangamata without too many people around. It’s never going to be an empty beach, but there’s plenty of space for a low tide end-to-end beach walk or a nap near the dunes followed by a swim.
If the surf is small and the wind conditions are right, you can rent a kayak to paddle over to Whenuakura (“Donut”) Island.
A bonus to the beach is the cute Whangamata township itself – there are some great little eateries and shops around town. Grab a takeaway coffee from Georgia’s Goods to take to the beach, or linger over a delicious brunch at Port Road Project before or after your beach stroll.
5) New Chums Beach
New Chums Beach is a stunning crescent of pristine white sand. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the Coromandel, if not all of NZ.
Backed by a lush forest with no houses in sight, this spot is paradise.
You’ll need to walk for about 30 minutes to get there.
Luckily, the walk into New Chums is lovely. You’ll walk along a rocky shoreline until it meets a narrow trail and winds through a jungly forest filled with Nikau palms. When the trail ends at the beach itself, prepare to be stunned: it’s a jaw-dropper.
New Chums is no longer a secret, and on a typical summer’s day the beach will be somewhat crowded—but it’s a huge cove with plenty of space for you to find your own patch of sand. The walk does help keep some of the crowds down, too. Outside of the summer months, you won’t see many people there at all.
Bring a picnic, swimsuit, plenty of water, and sunblock: once you get to New Chums, you won’t want to leave. It’s also worth noting that there are no bathrooms at the beach, so plan accordingly (there are, however, bathrooms at Whangapoua Beach, which is where you’ll start/end your walk—and this beach is beautiful, too!).
Side tip: If you’re after panoramic views of the beach and surrounds, and are up for a steep scramble, take the path to the New Chums lookout. The lookout path is unmarked but juts off to the right from the main trail to the beach. Keep your eyes peeled along your walk and you’ll be able to spot the side path.
6) Waihi Beach | Orokawa Bay | Homunga Bay
Waihi Beach is technically in the northernmost part of the Bay of Plenty region, but it’s so close to the Coromandel that we’re including it on this list!
While Waihi Beach is nice, it has two extra-special beaches close by: Orokawa Bay and Homunga Bay. Both of the latter two beaches require a hike in, which keeps down the crowds and makes for excellent day excursions. These are great beaches for adventurous types seeking seclusion.
So, if you like hidden gems and hiking, head to Orokawa Bay and/or Homunga Bay!
Orokawa Bay and Homunga Bay are both so beautiful that we’ve written a whole post on how to hike into these gorgeous beaches. Make sure to bring a backpack with snacks and everything you need for a day at the beach.
Side tip: after your beach hike, grab a bite to eat in Waihi Beach. There are plenty of great spots to choose from, but the Surf Shack serves up a mean burger.
7) Opoutere Beach
Opoutere Beach stretches out to around 5kms of untouched, golden-white sand. This place is an absolute paradise, with options for swimming, surfing, and shellfish collecting—or just relaxing, of course.
The beach is backed by a beautiful pine forest, and the birdlife is extraordinary—the beach itself is a breeding ground for endangered dotterels and oystercatchers.
If you’re in-the-know (and you are now!), you can snag a campsite at the nearby Opoutere Beach Camping Ground. It’s one of the country’s best places to camp, and you can enjoy this stunning beach morning, day and night.
If you time your visit with a full moon, make sure to go out to the beach to watch the moonrise over the sea; it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
We hope you enjoy these stunning beaches in the Coromandel, and please remember to always carry out anything you’ve brought in to these places—let’s all do our part to keep NZ’s beaches beautiful and rubbish-free.
More trip inspiration
If you love beaches, be sure to check out these spots:
- Head a bit farther south to Mount Maunganui to experience one of the country’s best beach towns.
- Visit Piha Beach on Auckland’s west coast for stunning views (go for sunset!) and rainforest walks.
- The Coromandel has a rival in Northland for some of the country’s best beaches… and Matapouri Beach is an absolute stunner.