Leaving from Hamilton?
Head out of town on SH26 to Morrinsville, via Te Aroha then onto Paeroa. Recommend a stop here for that iconic picture of the L & P soft drink bottle. This town is also known as the “antique capital of New Zealand” with its many stores. Continue on SH26 to Kopu then right onto SH25A. Up and over the hills for about 40 minutes then you come back onto SH25. Take a nice drive around Pauanui Beach for a bit of a detour, approximately a 10 minute drive. With its 3km coastline its popular for long strolls, surfing (lessons available) & swimming. Also this beach area has three great golf courses if you are looking for a game.
If you continue on SH25/Tairua Rd with the river on your right. You’ll come into a pretty seaside village Tairua which is a great place to stop. Let the kids out at the park for a run around or bite to eat at one of the many eateries or browse the galleries/boutiques. Special mention of Heaven and Earth shop for crystals, gems, jewellery & gifts.
Head out and up at the top of Pumpkin Hill is a great photo stop opportunity. Continue driving inland a little and head into Whenuakite. Hear you could stop for an ale or bite to eat at Hot Water Brewing Co or a flax weaving workshop (specific dates).
A little further on we recommend a visit to the iconic Hot Water Beach. Something special and unique is available here all year round. Pack a spade or buy/hire locally and you can create your own spa pool in the sand! Time it right (two hours either side of low tide) and the right beach location. Great coffee available from Hot Waves Cafe. Recommend you also visit the sculpture garden, art and design gallery Moko Artspace.
Next is Hahei an idyllic beach set in a marine reserve. Its the gateway point to the famous Cathedral Cove. Only accessible on foot or by boat (water taxi’s are available). A “must visit” site. The location within the marine reserve makes for beautiful snorkeling or diving opportunities plus amazing coastline photo shots. If you are thirsty after your walk, maybe a drink from the local craft brewer The Pour House, also serving hearty fare.
Travel about another 20 minutes on and you head in to Whitianga. The local town of the area where we would recommend you base yourself for at least 3 nights to do justice to the region with all its attractions and sites to see.