On our previous trip to New Zealand, we skipped a stopover in the North Island altogether. On this trip, we decided to stay for an entire week. We’d rent a car and drive through the upper portion of the island, making stops in the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua, Waitomo Caves and, of course, Auckland.
We arrived at Auckland International around noon, an hour later than scheduled because of foggy conditions at our departure airport in Christchurch. Despite forecasts of rain throughout our stay in the North Island, it was beautiful and sunny in Auckland. We immediately rented a car and headed southeast to the Coromandel Peninsula, known for its beautiful beaches.
The drive along Hwy 25 was gorgeous with stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf to our left. Rather than drive along the entire peninsula, we took a shortcut south of Coromandel Town across the 309 Road, a winding gravel road that passes by farmland and native bush. Along this road is the Kauri Grove, a stand of those magnificent native trees that are best preserved in Waipoua Forest in the Northland. At the eastern end, 309 intercepts Hwy 25 again. From there, we headed directly to Whitianga where we stayed the night at a nice bed & breakfast.