The direct Coromandel-Whitianga Road, offers a few sights and stops along the way. The road snakes through lush bush amidst scenic views of the Coromandel coast. This is also your gateway to climb Castle Rock, 525m/2km/1.5hr return, for some great views over Whangapoua peninsula and the Mercury Islands. 11km from Coromandel, you'll find the Waiau Falls where you can take a swim at the base of the falls. Next is a short walk to the Kauri Clump Scenic Reserve which is dedicated to the protection of the fine, kauri trees which dwarf the surrounding bush.
The next stop is Whangapoua with a good swimming beach, lovely white sand and some traditional kiwi baches (holiday homes). You can take a stroll to paradise at New Chums Bay from here (4km return/1hr). Kuatunu is the next village along your way. This seaside town's days of glory are long past. In 1889, at Try Fluke Reef, gold was found, a discovery which brought enough prosperity to the town that it supported a racecourse and brass band. Today you can still see naked patches of clay on Bald Spur at Powell's Point. Today, Kaotunu is more famous for its fishing than its gold. If you take the 18km road to Opito you'll find beautiful views of the coast to the Mercury Islands and excellent fishing, you'll see the surfcasters.
Whitianga is a legend. Whitianga, in Maori, means 'Crossing Place' as it is believed to be the spot where Kupe, the Polynesian explorer who was first to discover New Zealand first landed in AD 950. Whitianga is a picturesque town which lies at the base of the hills in front of the sands of Mercury Bay. It's a good idea to give yourself a couple of days here for a bit of exploring or a few excursions.
The Bone Studio and Gallery is a good place to try your hand at bone carving. Local craftsmen will show you how to design, drill and sand your very own unique Tiki or pendant from cow bone. 16, Coghill Street, Whitianga.
Mercury Bay District Museum is dedicated to the peninsula's discovery by Captain Cook (with a few sides on kauri-gum digging, shipwrecks and minerals). You'll find this converted butter factory down by the wharf. Open October to April 10a.m.- 4p.m.
Take the ferry over the harbour to Ferry Landing (you can drive here too) and explore awhile. There are a few beaches here worth visiting. Front Beach has beautiful white sands and Cook's Beach is good for swimming and fishing for the delicious crayfish. At Flaxmill Bay, see if you can Shakespeare's profile in the rockcliffs, (Cook thought he could and named one Shakespeare's Cliff). Cook's Beach was where on November 5, 1769 New Zealand came to belong to King George III when Cook first planted the British flag here. If you really want to get away from it all take the walking track from the Cook Memorial to Lonely Bay. It's a short, steep walk to a small beach secluded by the surrounding cliffs.