Image Courtesy of Malene Holm
Halfway between Auckland and Tauranga is the stunning Karangahake Gorge. This winding part of the main highway passes through the junction between the Coromandel and Kaimai mountain ranges and follows the Ohinemuri River between Paeroa and Waihi.
There are many things to do in the area, including walking, mountain biking and relaxing by (or even in) the river. There is even wine tasting at a local winery.
This was once the site of a thriving gold mining town and evidence remains in the ruins of some of the buildings and equipment. There a several old mining tunnels that can be walked through (be sure to take a torch).
At less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Auckland, this is a popular day trip and can be quite crowded on weekends and during summer holidays. It's a great place to stop when traveling between Auckland and Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.
Read More: What to See and Do in the Karangahake Gorge