The Coromandel Peninsula was one of our family’s favorite areas of the North Island of New Zealand. There are so many things to do in Coromandel that we could have stayed much longer than five days we spent. But one activity really stands out for our family as our favorite activity: our Coromandel tour with Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga! Our whole family always loves getting out on the water when we travel to get a new perspective on our destinations, and this one was no exception. Read on to learn more about the tour experience and see the beautiful scenery of Mercury Bay that you’ll only catch by boat (including Cathedral Cove, a New Zealand highlight for many!).
Curious to see more awesome places we’ve gotten out on the water? Check them out here!
About Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga’s Coromandel tours
For the last 25 years, Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga has been running their fun and educational tours through Mercury Bay. These guys run a great operation – we were really impressed by the quality of the boat and the friendliness and knowledge of our guide. As you can see below the kids loved the experience and it’s completely family-friendly; another family was on our tour with their toddler and young baby!
The boat picks up at two locations: most passengers embarked at the wharf in Whitianga, while a few more hopped on at the ferry landing on the other side of the bay. They run tours four times per day during the summer and twice daily during the winter (but additional times can be added upon request).
Fun fact: Cook’s Beach, which you’ll see in its entirety from the boat, was the site of Captain James Cook’s first landing in New Zealand in 1769 on the HMS Endeavour. According to Maori legend, it was also the site of the explorer Kupe’s first landing in Aotearoa!
A visit to rugged Mercury Bay
Your tour with Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga will take you through some of the most spectacular coastal scenery you’ll ever see. The water crashing through and around the wide range of volcanic rock formations is simply stunning. Most parts of Mercury Bay don’t look like a place for swimming, as nature’s beauty and brutality are on full display. Our tour took us past Shakespeare’s Cliff, into Te-Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, through gorgeous Champagne Bay, into sea caves and blow holes and past some of the Coromandel Peninsula’s most secluded beaches (including world-famous Cathedral Cove).
Not only will you experience the amazing views above the sea surface, but you’ll have ample opportunity to view the Marine Reserve’s marine life, including fish, coral and even rays. Ronnie and I took the plunge into the chilly waters to snorkel over the reef in one of the calmer areas near Mahurangi Island, while the kids stuck to the boat and got amazing views under the water. The snorkel equipment was great quality and extremely clean, and with it we spotted blue mao mao, piper and leather jacket fish. It was the first time any of us had been on a glass bottom boat, but it definitely won’t be the last! For kids who are still learning to swim in open water or places where the conditions aren’t ideal for kids, a glass bottom boat can open up the wonders of marine life for them in a unique way. As you can see, Team Conn was all smiles!
We hope you’ll include Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga in your list of things to do on the North Island of New Zealand! We were provided a discount on our tour with Glass Bottom Boat Whitianga; all opinions are our own.