We all know NZ has some amazing driving roads. I recently had the privilege of driving one of them – State Highway 25 around the Coromandel Peninsula.
This is a great route for a half-day drive, or a full day if you include some sightseeing along the way. Just make sure you pick a time when the roads are quiet or you’ll end up taking a wonderfully scenic but pedestrian drive behind a camper van!
On this occasion I was driving a new five door MINI Cooper. Certainly a decent car for a route like this as it loves to corner and encourages you to have fun.
Starting in Thames, I headed North on SH25. The road hugs the coastline to the left with drops down to the rocky volcanic beach and views across the Firth of Thames. On the right are forest-covered hills. Pohutakawa trees line the route and hang across the road, looking stunning around Christmas when they’re in bloom.
The road is tight and narrow with occasional dips and potholes so you need your wits about you but some fun can be had well within the 100kph speed limit.
Eventually the road widens a little, turns inland and starts to climb up over the hills to Coromandel. Up and down the hill is one of those places where you hope there’s no other traffic on the road so that you can enjoy the drive and take it at your own pace.
As the road levels out towards Coromandel you can take it easy, cool down the car and cruise for a little while. Either turn right towards Whitianga or carry straight on and do a little sight seeing or coffee drinking in Coromandel Town.
Once you pass the last of the houses on the way out of Coromandel the road starts to rise up over the hills. There’s a fantastic climb up to a viewpoint at the top of Maungatuaruru, followed by a twisty descent. The road continues like this up and down the hills all the way through the forests to Whitianga. Google Maps says this is a 42 minute drive but it went by in a flash!
After a cruise past Whitianga the road winds through flatter farmland for a while.
You can turn left at Whenuakite and head to Hahei to take a walk to Cathedral Cove, or if it’s close to high tide you can experience Hot Water Beach.
Carry on South and you hit another mountain road. Twists and turns, climbs and drops. another great road. Eventually you return to sea level and arrive in Tairua, where I was surprised to find that you can get 98 RON petrol, as well as a pie or a drink.
Once you and the car are filled up it’s time to continue South on SH25, then take a right turn onto SH25A back towards Thames.
The fun isn’t over yet though, there are more mountains to climb over and lots more great sets of twists and turns.
Eventually you will arrive back in Thames, having experienced one of NZ’s most famous drives, and thoroughly tested out your car!
Map screenshots are from Google Maps.