Probably our favourite day long ride from Auckland is the Coromandel Loop. It is an iconic ride, especially for riders from Auckland, the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, judging by the large number of bikes you see on the road. For us, living in the east of Auckland, we usually meet for coffee or breakfast at the Maraetai Wharf Cafe then we prefer to take the Pohutukawa Coast road to Kaiaua, joining State Highway 25 at Waitakaruru, rather than following State Highways 1 and 2 which are busy and boring.
The coast road has good variation of sweepers and tight corners and beautiful farm countryside, bush reserves and spectacular views as you ride alongside the Firth of Thames coastline.
Riding across the Thames valley is not the best part of the journey, with long straights and often a lot of wind, but it is over quickly and the real fun starts on the Kopu-Tairua road which winds through a beautiful river valley then across the mountains. This part of the road is good enough on its own to be a great ride, but there’s more to come – much more. You are very much aware of the Coromandel ranges, especially on the Pacific side where the mountains form the backdrop to green valley roads. The mountains are mostly formed from ancient volcanic eruptions, with spectacular peaks all along the way. You touch the sea again for the first time at Tairua and then again at Whitianga, the main town on the peninsula. If you need a break, this is a good place to stop for a coffee or lunch or other refreshment.
After Whitianga there is a great ride across the mountains to Kuaotunu where you ride alongside the surf for maybe 5km before heading inland again – lots of long sweeping bends that can easily lead to expensive discussions with the gendamerie if you are not careful. After Te Rerenga you start climbing back over the hills towards the township of Coromandel on the Thames coast. The road on both sides of the summit is very winding and a good test of your riding skills. At the summit you get an excellent view across the Hauraki Gulf and on a good day you can see Auckland City. Coromandel is an excellent stop and our favourite is Umu Cafe. A local speciality is mussell fritters.
You will need refreshment because the ride down the coast to Thames is one of the great New Zealand rides. After some good hill roads, you head down along the Thames coast which is narrow, winding and excessively beautiful.
Back across the plains, we often stop at Kaiaua for maybe the best fish and chips in the North Island, then return either the way we came, or through the Hunua Ranges to Clevedon Village, and a final refreshment at the General Store in Whitford before heading home. The total trip is around 435 km and is achievable in a day. Our rating is 4.5 out of 5. OK make it 5 out of 5. Happy riding.
Note: we will add more photos after each trip.