Nestled neatly in the heart of Mercury Bay, the town of Whitianga affords great access to a real myriad of nearby coastal attractions, from the volcanic Hot Water Beach to the remote and paradisal sand stretches at Hahei.
In Whitianga, the five kilometre long Buffalo Beach stretches out northwards, while the picturesque harbour is home to tour boat operators and marine sports outfitters. Booking a two hour boat tour is a great way to explore Cathedral Cove and the craggy coves, towering pinnacles and sea caves of Mercury Bay.
A regular ferry service from Whitianga Wharf connects passengers to ‘Ferry Landing’ which gives access to the Cooks Beach, Lonely Bay and Shakespeare Cliff attractions.
The lookout point of Shakespeare Cliff offers sweeping views of the appropriately-named Lonely Bay - shrouded by the wooded cliffs of the scenic reserve to its back - and the lengthy shore of Cooks Beach behind.
For those staying in the clusters of motels and accommodation that sits along Buffalo Beach Road, the nearby Lost Springs Spa offers a myriad of bathing pools and spa treatments set in a tropical landscape.
For dining out, the marina-side ‘Salt Restaurant and Bar’ is hailed for its super-fresh seafood while the rest of the restaurants along Blacksmith Lane provide good options.
A 30 minute drive from Whitianga, at the northern end of the Hahei beach, is a cliff top car park and access point to the Hahei Coastal Walkway.
This 45 minute walk leads to one of the most iconic natural attractions in New Zealand – Cathedral Cove. Guided kayaking tours and a water taxi departing from Hahei, offer an alternative route to the much photographed attraction.
For a different perspective, daily diving and snorkeling trips leave from Hahei to explore the Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve along with the outer islands, pinnacles and volcanic coastline outside of the marine reserve boundaries.