Waihi Beach is a coastal town on the western end of the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s North Island. The beach is situated 10 kilometres east of the town of Waihi, which is at the bottom of the Coromandel Peninsula. The beach itself is quite expansive, stretching for around 10 kilometres south, terminating at the small settlement of Bowentown at the southern end. The area around this wonderful expanse of beach is very sparsely populated during the winter months.
However, during the summer, the population explodes as visitors flock from all over to enjoy this wonderful beach. Waihi Beach is ideally located for visitors who want a central location to visit both the stunning Coromandel Peninsula as well as the Bay of Plenty.
Waihi Beach has been inhabited for hundreds of years. The Maori lived in the region since well before European settlement.
What to Do – Waihi Beach
The beach itself provides plenty to keep visitors occupied. It is a wonderful spot year round for both surfing and swimming. Visitors can, “Swim Between the Flags,” year round as the area is patrolled by lifeguards. There are also wonderful coastal walks located in and around Waihi Beach. The Orakawa Bay and Homanga walks are stunning and can easily be done from Waihi Beach. The Orakawa Bay walk takes you over the hill on the northern side of the beach to the adjacent Orakawa Bay.
This walk is beautiful and only takes around 90-minutes round trip. The Homunga Bay walk is a further 2.5 hours along the same coastal walkway. It is a stunning walk that is well worth the effort if you are willing to track the significant extra distance. The Athenree Saltmarsh Wetlands also provides a wonderful walk for visitors.
There, travellers can leisurely stroll around the wetlands, taking in the beautiful and unique birdlife in the area. The wetlands are also home to a fantastic relaxing and soothing hot spring. The hot spring is a great place to spend an afternoon relaxing. It is said that the rich mineral water in the pools has healing and rejuvenating abilities.
Kayak enthusiasts will enjoy some fantastic sea kayaking right off the coast in Waihi Beach. Kayakers can even paddle to the glow worm caves in nearby Waimarino. It is only a 35-minute trip, each way and it is well worth it as the glow worm caves are a truly unique site. As you paddle in the caves, it almost feels like looking up at a starry sky on a clear night as the ceiling of the cave is just covered with illuminating glow worms.
If you are a cyclist, then you can enjoy a wonderful day out on the beautiful scenic cycleways that lead to Bowentown and the stunning Anzac Bay. In fact, Anzac Bay serves as the perfect rest stop along this ride, providing cyclists with unimpeded views over the sheltered harbour where they can watch the fishing boats roll in and out each day.
If you are looking for a more relaxed day around the town, there is certainly a lot there to keep you entertained as well. Wilson Road, which runs along the beachfront is home to a wide array of cafes, restaurants, and shops. These cafes make for a wonderful place to enjoy a coffee as you watch the waves leisurely ebb and flow. Wilson Road is also home to a variety of excellent delicatessens, artisan food shops, clothing boutiques, spas, and gift shops.
During the summer, Wilson Road is also home to a fantastic Produce Market that boasts some of the areas finest and freshest produce. Wilson Road is also home to a variety of practical shops and services as well, such as a hardware store, medical clinics, and other such services you might need during your stay.
History enthusiasts will also enjoy learning a bit about the rich mining history in Waihi. Visitors can take a trip to the Martha Mine, which is a working gold mine that can be seen on the main street of Waihi.
Of course, Waihi Beach is more than just the beach and the township. Its location makes it ideally located for visitors looking to visit the Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty, and head to other nearby tourist attractions, like Hobbiton and the Karangahake Gorge.
The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most beautiful locations in all of New Zealand. Rugged, striking, majestic, and largely untouched, the Coromandel is a pristine natural wonder. Home to a number of beautiful spots, walks, and beaches, Visitors could spend weeks touring the whole thing and taking in its dramatic beauty. If you are visiting Waihi Beach for an extended amount of time, you have to take at least a day trip to the Coromandel Peninsula.
One of the major attractions on the Coromandel is Hot Water Beach. This beach is situated right above a hot spring and during low tide, you can walk out into the sand, dig down, and, after manipulating the sand a little bit, create your own natural hot spring, right on the coast. Once you dig deep enough, the hot water below will come to the surface.
This is a truly unique beach-going experience and for that reason, it should come as no surprise that this is a very popular site on the Coromandel. The Cormandel is literally a natural playground. It is great for fishing, walking, tramping, swimming, boating, and literally just about any other outdoor recreation activity you could think of.
Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty is a huge expanse of indented coastline on New Zealand’s North Island. It stretches from the Coromandel Peninsula in the west to the Cape Runaway in the east, some 259 kilometres. This large stretch of coastline is dotted with wonderful seaside towns, islands, and fantastic beaches.
There are any number of things to do in this area, with whale watching becoming increasingly popular as the number of blue and humpback whales migrating into bay waters has spiked in recent years. Similar to the Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty is an outdoor recreation haven. The summers are beautiful. The coastline is expansive and pristine. What more can you ask for?
Hobbiton is a must for Lord of the Rings enthusiasts. Only around one hour from Waihi Beach, Hobbiton is the movie set used in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy as the Shire. It now remains, as a very popular attraction. Visitors flock from all over the world each year to visit Hobbiton and walk around the very Shire they saw in the critically-acclaimed movies.
The Karangahake Gorge is the perfect mix of stunning beauty and rich, gold-mining history. The gorge is home to a beautiful walkway that will take around 4-hours to walk round trip. The track follows the bends of the Ohinemuri River where visitors can alternate between taking in the stunning natural beauty and reveling in the fascinating remains of the old railway that serviced the mine in the area back when the gorge was a gold-mining hotbed.
The track eventually reaches the tranquil Pwaharoa Falls and the entrance to the Victoria Battery. There are a number of old gold-mining relics along the way.
Where to Stay – Waihi Beach
Waihi Beach is home to a wide variety of wonderful accommodation options. From campgrounds to backpacker’s hostels, to holiday cottages, to hotels, to resorts, there is a bit of everything in Waihi Beach. No matter you taste or your budget, there is something for you in Waihi Beach.
Travelling from Abroad?
Visitors travelling from abroad will find it relatively easy to reach Waihi Beach. It is only a 2-hour drive from Auckland centre or a 1.5-hour drive from the Auckland International Airport. This is a very large international airport that is serviced from a number of international destinations, making it very easy for visitors travelling from abroad to fly into Auckland and then travel the remaining short distance either by car or by bus.