Hotels in Whangamata, New Zealand
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Make Whangamata your escape on the stunning New Zealand coast
With glorious beaches, mild summertime weather and the superb scenery of the Coromandel Peninsula all around, Whangamata is a popular getaway on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s upper North Island. A fashionable summertime escape for younger Auckland residents, this surfing hotspot also makes an excellent base for walkers and cyclists wishing to immerse themselves in the rugged and wildlife-rich countryside nearby. What’s more, the town hosts fun annual events like music festivals and renowned New Year’s Eve parties. Served by State Highway 25, Whangamata and its hotels and motels are two hours’ drive from Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.
Golden sandy beaches attract thousands of holidaymakers to idyllic Whangamata, particularly during summer. With a reputation as a safe and family-friendly spot for swimming, the town benefits from a mild climate and a four-mile beach sheltered by small offshore islands. Overlooking Pacific Ocean waters where the Bay of Plenty meets the Coromandel Peninsula’s south-eastern shore, Whangamata is small enough that the beach will be nearby whichever hotel you choose. Furthermore, Whangamata boasts a left-hand surf break loved by surfers. The closest island to the shore, Hauturu or Clark Island, is dotted with rock-pools and is reached by wading at low tide or paddling in a kayak. Another natural attraction for travellers with a reasonable level of fitness and confidence in the water is Whenuakura, sometimes called Donut Island. Found about half-a-mile east of Whangamata’s southern Otahu Beach, its nickname derives from a collapsed blowhole in its centre, where a scenic small beach and lagoon have subsequently formed. Since these are accessed by a narrow natural archway, it is recommended to visit the island on a guided kayak or paddleboard tour.
The peninsula’s eastern coast brims with excellent beaches. Easily reached from the hotels and motels of Whangamata, these include tranquil Whiritoa, about 15 minutes’ drive south, and the pristine beaches of Onemana, Opoutere and Pokohino, a short drive north. Meanwhile, Whitianga on Mercury Bay is a yachting, sea-fishing, scuba-diving and snorkelling hotspot about a 75 minutes’ drive north. En route, travellers can visit Tairua and Pauanui for more lovely beaches or experience the unusual Hot Water Beach near Hahei. A quirk of the geothermal activity that shaped the peninsula, this beach sits above natural underground hot springs that pump warm water up through holes dug in the sand around low tide.
Wonderful wildlife encounters
The Coromandel Peninsula, where Whangamata is found, may be sparsely populated, but it’s rich in wildlife and fast becoming an ecotourism hotspot. Indeed, many peninsula residents are former city dwellers who moved to the countryside to follow a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. From your hotel in Whangamata you can head north or south to encounter rare native birds and an abundance of marine life amid the raw natural beauty of the area. The Bay of Plenty to the south is a hotspot for whale-watching trips as it regularly plays host to blue whales and humpback whales. About one hour’s drive north of Whangamata in Hahei, travellers can explore one of New Zealand’s marine reserves. The Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve is a protected marine ecosystem off the coast near beautiful Cathedral Cove, where a breathtaking natural rock arch is the backdrop. Glass-bottomed boat trips, scuba-diving, kayaking and snorkelling trails are the commonest ways to explore this protected environment rich in seaweed and fish, including marblefish, stingray, cod and snapper.
A little further afield, those who like to spot wildlife in wild places can explore the rugged and remote Moehau Range of mountains at the far northern tip of the peninsula. Located about two hours’ drive north of Whangamata’s hotels, these peaks are sacred for certain Maori tribes. A haven for biodiversity, the mountains are home to flightless North Island brown kiwis and the rare Archey’s frog, which hatches its young from eggs without the tadpole phase.
Walking and cycling amid glorious scenery
Whangamata is certainly a paradise for beachgoers, but it’s also wonderful for walkers and cyclists who want to immerse themselves in the stunning scenery the Waikato region of New Zealand has to offer. Short walks and day walks abound in the area surrounding Whangamata’s hotels and motels. Indeed, visitors can quickly access quiet stretches of coastline or hills covered in temperate rainforests that are perfect for wearing out their walking boots. For example, there’s a walk of about 90 minutes to the picturesque Wentworth Falls near Whangamata and a scenic coastal walk south of Whiritoa to a blowhole, where the ocean occasionally surges through. Around Opoutere, there are gentle beach walks past rock-pools or inland forest trails to visit the historic Phoenix goldmine. Found roughly 45 minutes’ drive south, the Orokawa Scenic Reserve is a popular spot for walking trails, coastal views and picnic areas. For those on two wheels, sections of the nearby Hauraki Rail Trail cycleway are well-liked for exploring lush farmland and native forest.
Annual events galore
Whangamata likes to throw Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties that attract a young Auckland crowd to its hotels, bars and restaurants during the summer holiday season. Indeed, the town’s population can swell above 30,000 during the sometimes raucous festivities. Another top annual event is the Whangamata Beach Hop festival. Usually held in March or April, it sees the town roar to life with classic cars, hot rods, motorcycles, rock and roll bands and food stalls.