Mercury Bay & Whitianga – The Coromandel Region of New Zealand
Mercury Bay acts like a magnet to beach and nature lovers – Places like Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach are well-known beaches among travelers from all over the world and – of course – New Zealanders as well.
Located on the east coast of the Coromandel, Mercury Bay’s main town of Whitianga has attracted visitors for more than a thousand years, since Maori explorer Kupe first settled here around 950A.D. But it was Captain James Cook who gave the area its name, when he anchored in the bay in 1769 to observe the transit of Mercury.
From the lookout of this attractive beach (named after the Maori Chief Hei) there is access to Cathedral Cove and the Marine Reserve.
Flanked by Shakespeare Cliff to the west and the picnic spot of Purangi River to the East, this is a popular visitor destination.
Named after the H.M.S. Buffalo wrecked here in 1840, this beach offers safe swimming, plus good fishing and shellfish collecting. Further north is Wharekaho Beach, where the areas main Maori Pa was located.
That is a must-see attraction for beach lovers and visitors to the Coromandel peninsula — also, the cove is likely one of the most photographed attraction.
See and read more on our page: Cathedral Cove – The Coromandel Region
Hot Water Beach
For two hours either side of low tide, visitors can dig themselves into the sand and enjoy the hot spring waters.
Hot Water Beach parking is located at Hot Water Beach Rd — there is a free parking lot. Signage can be confusing because there’s another sign for Hot Water Beach that leads a few hundred meters further to a parking lot of a Souvenir shop and they charge you by the hour. So, if you went there, just drive a few hundred yards to the north and turn east onto the tiny road to the official parking lot.
Once a thriving gold mining town, this area offers a good beach, fishing and access – via the famous Black Jack Road – to the picturesque white sand beaches of Otama and Opito.
Go to the Visitor Center and get lots of information about the area and maps that let you easily find the best spots.
The Visitor Center is located at: 66 Albert Street, Whitianga
The centre for boating and fishing activity, where you can take the passenger Ferry to Ferry Landing and Flaxmill Bay or the shuttle to Cooks beach, Hahei, Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.
Mercury Bay Museum
Address: 11A The Esplanade, Whitianga
Located in the old Dairy Factory, the museum offers fascinating relics from the areas past.
It bears also the name ‘Simpsons Beach’ and is Captain Cook’s first landing place in New Zealand. Located a few kilometers/miles north of Whitianga.