New Zealand’s a little country but you won’t see it ALL in 2 weeks! Unless your 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 timestrapped traveller, read about these handy tips.

Bay of Islands

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 9Harakeke Gardens villa and much more. We stayed in April, a beautiful Autumn month and wore short-sleeved tea-shirts most of the time.

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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.


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.

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.



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11 responses to “Bay of Islands v Coromandel for the timestrapped traveller”

  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

  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

  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 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!

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