New Zealand’s a little country but you won’t see it ALL in 2 weeks! Unless you are on unlimited time, you might be faced with having to make a choice between visiting the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel.  So if you gotta make the choice, Bay of Islands v Coromandel for the time-strapped traveller, read about these handy tips.

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Bay of Islands & Northland

Consideration 1: From Auckland, the Bay of Islands will take 4-5 hours, whereas the Coromandel will take only 2-3 hours. Don’t let the maps fool you. The road to the Bay of Islands is winding and will take longer than you think.

The Bay of Islands is a sub tropical paradise with lush native bush. This is where you’ll find Eagles Nest, Kauri Cliffs Golf Resort, Allegra House, Cloud 9,  Harakeke Gardens villa or Peace & Tranquility Cottage accommodation. We stayed in April, a beautiful Autumn month and wore short-sleeved tea-shirts most of the time.


Consideration 2: You can fit the Bay of Islands into any part of your trip but I think a New Zealand itinerary flows better if you visit at the END. It’s the ideal location to unwind and the last impression is very important, right? To justify the 4-5 hour drive, you’ll need to stay in the area for at least a couple of days.

The Bay of Islands is home to the Waipoua Forest and mighty Kauri trees, 90-mile beach and let’s not forget the Waitangi Treaty grounds. If the weather’s right, you might even enjoy a Dolphin swim.

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Coromandel Peninsula

Consideration 3: BUT if you’re Time-strapped, take the shorter drive to the Coromandel. The Coromandel also has Kauri trees and beautiful beaches located on the eastern side. Travelling in from Auckland Airport you can be at Hahei Beach in a matter of 2.5-3 hours (pending on traffic). So, with early morning flight arrivals in New Zealand you could well spending the afternoon on a pristine beach. How cool does this sound?!

Last time, we stayed in one of the Puka Park Resort’s treehouses. Loved being nestled in all that dense native bush. If you’re looking for a more boutique level of comfort, there’s always Waihi Beach Lodge the charming Mussel Inn B & B or the luxurious 970 Lonely Bay Lodge.

So chill out folks, slow down a little and start creating those beautiful memories. Once you arrive at either location you simply want to slow down. Fresh air, stunning scenery and a generally more relaxed way of life are the key ingredients for both regions.


With many regions in New Zealand it is really worthwhile staying for 3-4 nights. Especially for the Coromandel Peninsula or the Bay of Island. Both locations offer a huge range of activities, scenic sites and other attractions. In fact, both the Bay of Island and the Coromandels are holiday destinations on its own. So, avoid ‘travel stress’ by spending most of your time driving from A to B, but ‘travel slow’ and explore in depth.

Happy Travelling in the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel Peninsula!

23 responses to “Consider Bay of Islands v Coromandel for the times trapped travellers”

  1. Megan says:

    Hey there, your information was great. I have the same problem of what we are going to do in December when we travel to NZ.
    One question i have for you is Bay of Islands tours. Did u take it from Auckland and spend a day trip up and back, organized tour company?
    I am tossing up whether to do this OR get the coach to Paihia /Bay of Islands and we can do our own thing there, either a cruise, hire canoes etc… and catch the coach back in the afternoon.
    I just look at the Bay of Islands tour from Auckland and it includes city highlights, treaty grounds and cruise through hole in the rock. Where we are more interested in seeing the islands and russell/hole in the rock (not treaty grounds, and the city highlights we can check out on our other days in Auckland)

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hey Megan, Good to hear from you. Well, it all depends on the available time. Yes, you can do a day trip from Auckland to the Bay, but the drive is about 4 hours one-way. If you don’t have the time do it with a guided tour ex Auckland. The best you can do is to have 2-3 nights for the Bay of Islands and explore the region… so much do to and see here! Getting the timing right is important. Personally I wouldn’t do the Bay of Island in a day. Too much travelling involved. If you don’t have the time I’d suggest to visit the Coromandel Peninsula only… “less is more” What to do? Well personally I enjoyed the treaty grounds, but some others enjoy the cruise out into the Bay and even do a dolphin swim. December is officially “summer”, so temperatures should be good to do this. Hope this helps (you’re more than welcome to email us at [email protected]).

  2. Idaira González says:

    Good afternoon from Spain, I have had to change my itinerary for our next holidays in NZ and now I need to choose between BOI and Coromandel.
    We have just time from the 20th February in Auckland where we will pick up our campervan in the morning to the 22nd February in the evening because on the 23rd we want to visit Waitomo Caves and drive to Rotorua to try to go in a typical Hangi dinner.
    I would like to have an opinion about where to go and what to do with this timing. They are just 2 nights…please, give me a hand if you can!
    I will be waiting for your reply.
    THANKS and Kind Regards

    • GuestNZ says:

      Kia Ora Idaira, good to hear you are travelling our part of the world. You can travel from Auckland to Waitomo in about 3 hours (time with a motorhome), do the Waitomo Caves – I recommend the Ruakuri Caves – and continue to Rotorua for the night (another 2.5 hrs drive). Make sure you book a motorcamp side for vehicle in advance as you are travelling during absolute peak holiday season. Not sure if you are traveling further south, but you could lso visit the Coromandels ex Auckland first and then do the above mention Waitomo/Rotorua part (driving times would be the same). Note, all will really depend on your overall time budget for your trip. For any further questions just email us at [email protected]

  3. Idaira González says:

    Thanks for yor reply! I already sent you an email with more doubts..If you could have it a look, would be very kind from you! THANK YOU

  4. Sahil Gupta says:

    Hi, good evening from India. Firstly, I would like to thank you for these strings of messages as they are proving out to be quite helpful. I am planning to visit New Zealand on my honeymoon next month (November) and am staying on the Northern Island for 7 days. I have made my bookings in Paihia for 2 days and am planning to spend 2 days in Whitianga and 2 in Rotorua and 1 in Auckland. At first I would like an advice from you whether this itinerary seems fine. Secondly I am confused whether i should drop rotorua and spend an extra day in Paihia.

    Please suggest. Your early reply will be highly appreciated.

    • GuestNZ says:

      Kia Ora Sahil, good to hear from you. As your questions are quite specific I will email you some suggestions to make your honeymoon a ‘trip of a lifetime’. Cheers Michael

  5. Harsha Nagaraj says:


    The above thread is quite helpful. In December of this year, I’m headed to New Zealand for my honeymoon. Planning to spend 4 days in the North Island, before heading down South for the next 12. While in the North, we have decided to spend 1 day in Auckland. For the next 3, I am trying to decide between the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula.

    Cape Reinga has always been fascinating, but is also a fair distance away. I’d also like to avoid the crowds and don’t want to spend all 3 days on a beach. Any recommendations on which of these two areas work better? Really appreciate all your help. I have to return to Auckland on Day 4 to take an early am (next day) flight to Christchurch.

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hi Harsha, with just 4 days in the North Island I’d recommend to have two nights in the Coromandels and 2 nights in the Rotorua area. The good thing is that you can ‘do’ things like Hobbiton and Waitomo ‘on the way’. Therefore its much more time- and travel effective. Going back to Auckland and flying out to Chch the next morning would you need to stay in the Auckland airport area (city is 25 kms away an can take a while during morning rush hour). Hope this helps, otherwise drop me an email to [email protected] if you need more details. Cheers Michael

  6. Arun says:

    I’m visiting NZ in december for a week, landing in Auckland and departing from Wellington.
    Wanted to do a road trip from Auckland to Wellington, covering Waitomo, Rotoroa, Taupo and Wellington.
    Heard about Cape Rienga and feeling like visiting. Drive to Pahia and take a bus tour(whole day), And drive down from Pahia to Wellington covering places mentioned above.

    3 Days will be gone if I add Cape Rienga, and shorten the time in other places.

    So should I just drop Cape rienga and add Coromandel?

    Please suggest.

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hi Arun, good to hear you are coming over the NZ in December! As you only have one week I would not recommend to travel to the Far North. You would need at least 2-3 nights to justify the drive. Instead have a night in Auckland (guess you arrive from a long-haul flight), check-out Coromandels for 2 nights, travel via Waitomo to Rotorua and Taupo for 3 nights. I you are keen to see Wellington use the last 1-2 nights for that. That is pretty much what you can do with one week. Hope this helps!

  7. Sonia Cardoso says:


    After some advise please.

    I have 10 nights in the north islands and was looking to spend 1 night Auckland (late flight in from Sydney), 3 nights BOI, 3 nights Rotorua (include Taupo, White Island Tour), 2 nights Tongariro National Park (include Waitomo caves & Hobbiton, Taumarunui Pedal rail journey), 1 night Auckland.

    The decision I am struggling with is BOI or Coramandel Peninsula? Is there a car ferry any way along the route back from BOI to Auckland that I can get on to Coramandel Peninsula? If not its quiet a long drive.
    Is there much to do in Tongariro park – other than walking trails that you could suggest?

    Any guidance would be much appreciated.

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hi Sonia, good hearing from you. Overall your itinerary looks good with right locations and times. For Bay of Islands vs Coromandel one my thoughts:
      a) as long as you like driving the Bay of Islands would be fine. You will have 4-5 up north and 7-8 hours from BOI to Rotorua, so that one is a very long one. If would take a domestic flight from AKL to BOI on your first day after arrival in AKL this would take care for one driving day.
      b) if you don’t like driving then you surely want to go for the Coromandels. Everything is much closer and you have a similar scenery as in the BOI, but more time to really explore the beaches, Kauri forest walks, hiking area, gold mining, kayaking, snorkelling.
      Not sure about your interests, but you might want to consider Tutukaka, which is in between AKL and BOI. Fab spot for ‘off the beaten’ travellers and best place to dive in NZ!
      Whatever you do, have a fab time!

  8. Aditi says:


    Thanks for all the information covered above. I am from India and I have my honeymoon trip planned from 24th Jan to 5th Feb. I would like to cover both the islands but don’t even want the trip to be very hectic. It would be great if you can give me some suggestions as local person from New Zealand on how can I make this trip memorable and take the best out of it while keeping it relaxed.

    Thanks in advance

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hi Aditi, as you have so little time for your honeymoon, I don’t recommend to go all the way north to the Bay of Islands. Do the Coromandels instead; even that will be a stretch! Generally you want to have 1/3 of your time in the North Island (so, in your case 4 days) and 2/3 in the South Island (so, 8 days). There is so much you want to cover that you also need a domestic flight. Otherwise you spending all day long driving on roads. Also, you are travelling at the busiest time of the year in NZ. You need to pre-book things, otherwise you will waste valuable honeymoon time search for a place to sleep & things to do. Hope this helps! Cheers Michael

  9. RAHUL says:


  10. DrAnoop Bhalla says:

    Hi , I m Anoop from India. Me & my wife are travelling for a 16 day trip to both N & S Islands. I have finalised my Itinerary with a Driver Cum rented car wherein after staying overnight in AKL after a long flight from India, next 3 days we are spending in N by travelling to Waitomo caves, halt at Orewa, to Paihia, halt, to Cape Reinga to 90 mile beach Halt Paihia & next day drive down to AKL to catch evening flight to
    My query is instead of BOI, if v plan to go to Coromandel, Waitomo Caves & then bk to AKL for our evening flight, what should be our revised Itinerary with places of halt.
    2nd query is some operator from NZ has suggested me to stay in Wanaka instead of QT( planned 3 night halts). What’s your advice.
    3rd Query is in S Island, We are doing QT to MS and stay in TeAnu & next day move to Mt Cook. Again an advice from NZ operator is to spend more time in Te Anau. So should I enhance Te Anau stay by 1 day? I was thinking of going to Doubtful Sound if I stay another day.
    Pl advice.
    Dr Anoop

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hi Dr Anoop,

      We have been in contact over the past couple of days by email. There are so many options for you, but they will all depend on your interests and expectations. We can schedule a phone call and go through them in more details if you like. Please email me on [email protected] Many thanks Michael

  11. TanG says:


    I’m travelling to NZ in December for my honeymoon and will be starting my trip from south island. I have 6N planned in the north island after of which 2 N I’ll be in rotorua. The next 2 N I’m confused between BOI & coromandels post which 2 N I’ll be staying in Auckland. What do you suggest? is the drive from rotorua to BOI feasible along with waitomo caves?

    • GuestNZ says:

      Hi there, if in doubt and with only 2 nights I would suggest to head for the Coromandels. With only 2 nights you have one full day. You rather do beach walks and kayaking tours than sitting for 8-9 hours in the car up to the BOI (and back). Enjoy! Michael

  12. Phyllis says:

    Hi you are going to coromandel is it with going to ratoura .? We have only 4 nights
    Can you recommend something else to do and see in that region

  13. Ashwin says:

    Hope you guys are safe and well!

    I’m planning my honeymoon in December. Below is the itinerary I’ve in mind:
    Day 1: Auckland – Coromandel(Coromandel Cove)
    Day 2: Coromandel – Rotorua(Rafting), Lake Taupo
    Day 3: Rorotua(Maori) & Fly to Queenstown
    Day 4: Queenstown
    Day 6: Drive to Lake Pukaki & Mt. Cook
    Day 7: Mount Cook – Wanaka
    Day 8: Wanaka – Queenstown
    Day 9: Queenstown
    Day 10: Queenstown – Milford Sound
    Day 11: Milford Sound – Te Anau
    Day 12: Te Anau – Fiordland
    Day 13: Firodland – Queenstown:
    Day 14: Back home :'(

    Please suggest if I should me making any modifications. Plan is to explore best of NZ and not spend a lot of time at crowded areas. Happy to take your inputs.

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