Thames sits at the gateway to the Coromandel, New Zealand’s favourite holiday destination, making it perfect for hiring an NZ campervan as you journey into the sunshine and laid-back New Zealand lifestyle. Every year Kiwis flock to this strip of coast for summer-long parties, festivals and golden rays. Most Coromandel towns are within a one- or two-hour drive from Thames, so it's the ideal base for those looking to explore the region.
Thames by motorhome, the only way to travel
There are a number of Thames campervan hire companies, and at Motorhome Republic we make it easy by bringing all of the options together to compare. Just enter your details into our search engine for a list of Thames Motohome rentals. Filter your search results for the perfect vehicle to suit your needs. If you are planning on a Kiwi motorhome holiday along the whole Coromandel Peninsula, it may be worth checking out campervan hires in Auckland too, and picking it up from Auckland International Airport.
Kiwis tend to prefer campervans and sleepervans over big RV-style motorhomes - living the simple life is key. They’re also easier to handle on New Zealand’s notoriously windy roads. Smaller vans can come without a shower and toilet, meaning staying at holiday parks or well-equipped campsites is the way to go. Of course, over the holiday period many Kiwis are travelling too, so get in early and meet the locals.
Beaches, walking, chilling… the many attractions of Thames
Get out and explore nature. The beaches are stunning and there are plenty of tracks to enjoy around Thames. The Pinnacles is a great track for any age or ability, leading to a modern hut with views across the Coromandel Peninsula and beyond. There are also spots at the beginning where you can freedom camp. Perfect for campervans.
Thames was once the base for gold mining in the early 1860s. Browse photographs and information from the gold rush days at the Thames Historical Museum or Thames School of Mines.
The butterfly and orchid garden is a beautiful way to spend and afternoon. A little unassuming on the outside, inside you will find a burst of colour and flying jewels. Rapaura Watergardens is a paradise of native trees, ferns, seasonal flora, lily ponds, bridges, streams and a relaxing bush walk to a cascading waterfall, ‘The Seven Stairs to Heaven’. Take a picnic and enjoy the calm of the bush.
Hauraki Rail Trail is an easy bike ride that passes through Thames, Paeroa, Waihi and the Karangahake Gorge. The trail is suitable for all ages and abilities and is well signposted. If you didn’t bring your bike with you in the motorhome, there are plenty of places to hire one.
Miranda Hot Springs might be just what you need after a long bike ride. There's a large open-air heated pool that's great for families and a hotter roofed spa reserved for adults. There’s also picnic areas, a shop and takeaway food.
Grab something to eat – Thames restaurants and bars
The Waiomu Beach Café is directly across the road from the beach and serves up delicious Kiwi food. It’s popular with the locals and tourists alike, so be prepared to wait a little for a table during the weekends. Sola café is a vegetarian institution in Thames. The fare is always good and the service excellent. Try the creamy mushrooms or muesli for a filling way to start the day.
The Wharf Coffee House and Bar does the best fish and chips in town, with a relaxed and friendly ambience. Thanks to views right over the wharf, there’s no better spot.
If you’re road tripping in the Coromandel, stop in Paeroa for some L&P. You can’t miss this tiny town, even if you blink. A huge L&P bottle stands tall on the main road. If you’ve not tried it, L&P is a local soft drink made from lemon and some other stuff. It’s world famous in New Zealand according to the label, and is as Kiwi as it comes.
Camping and sites – accommodation options
Miranda Holiday Park is situated in a very peaceful location away from the town. They have a thermal pool with lots of room, plus are right next door to the Miranda Hot Springs.
Dickson Hoiday Park is well located to enjoy the main attractions in the area. The sea is only 200m away and there is a swimming pool and cosy TV room with plenty of books for any rainy days. The staff here are very friendly, always keen to help out.
Te Puru Holiday Park is a beautiful family camping ground. The setting is peaceful and it’s a perfect base for nature lovers with a stream bordering one side.
Freedom camping is acceptable in New Zealand, just make sure you talk to the information centres about any areas that are off limits. There’s nothing nicer than waking up to the sun streaming into your window as you overlook the beach.
Road trips and adventures around Thames
The Coromandel is blessed with hundreds of natural hideaways and secluded beaches making it the perfect place to explore in your motorhome. No matter where you go, if you follow the coast you’ll find plenty of incredible things to do.
Pacific Coast Highway leads you to some of New Zealand's most popular beaches. Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, near Whitianga, are key spots to visit. Two hours either side of low tide you can dig to unearth hot spring water to feed your very own beachside spa. Auckland is only an hour and a half from Thames, so if you’re really missing people, concrete and traffic, it’s an easy day trip.
For those who are looking to hit the open road for a bit longer, consider heading to locations like Wellington, Nelson or Christchurch in your campervan.
Thames tips – motorhome driving guide
During summer, the roads along the Coromandel and into Auckland can be bumper to bumper. Take your time, get enough sleep and give into the crawling pace of the traffic. If you have no patience for jams, time your journey to leave before peak hours. Otherwise, wind down your window, make friends with the locals in the car next to yours and remember road-trip lollies.