Holiday hotspot face-off: Bay of Islands vs Coromandel Peninsula

Alice Neville/Stuff.co.nz

The Bay of Islands and its surrounds leaves its mark in more ways than one.

Every year you get the family together, pack up the car, and head off to your favourite holiday spot. Where do you go?

Stuff wants you to decide where the best summer holiday destination can be found in New Zealand.

Over the next couple of days, we'll be pitting some of the country's most-loved hotspots against each other. All you have to do is vote for your favourite, and let us know what you love about it in the comments.

READ MORE:

* Holiday hotspot face-off: Central Otago vs Nelson
* Holiday hotspot face-off: Mackenzie Country vs West Coast
* Your favourite New Zealand holiday hotspots

Once we have a winner from each island, we'll let you come up with the grand winner.

Who will emerge victorious? The South Island, or the North Island? A beach paradise or a lake heaven?

You be the judge. 

Your favourite NZ holiday hotspots

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BAY OF ISLANDS

Where: Located on the east coast of the Far North of the North Island. Encompasses 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula and includes the towns of Opua, Paihia, Russell and Kerikeri.

Population: Kerikeri, the biggest town, has a population of 7050, followed by Paihia at 1880.

Golden sands and fluffy clouds in Paihia.

Golden sands and fluffy clouds in Paihia.

History: The Bay of Islands is one of the most important sites of New Zealand history. Waitangi was where the nation's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed, and Okiato was the site of New Zealand's first national capital. The Bay of Islands was also the first area of New Zealand to be settled by Europeans, with Captain James Cook arriving in 1769, followed by whalers, sailors and missionaries. 

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Climate: Often referred to as "sub-tropical", with some of the most consistently high temperatures in the country. 

What it's all about: History and Maori culture. Some of the bluest skies in the world. Warm weather. Coves and beaches. Boat trips and swimming with dolphins. Fish and chips.

Any famous faces? Mostly historical figures, like Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika, who managed to take over the north during the Musket Wars of the early 1800s.

The breathtaking Matauri Bay, north of Kerikeri.

The breathtaking Matauri Bay, north of Kerikeri.

What to do there: Visit Urupukapuka Island, the largest of the 144 islands and a perfect spot for camping. Go to Waitangi and visit the treaty grounds. Go for a swim or a snorkel at one of the golden sand beaches around Paihia. Cruise out to the famous Hole in the Rock on Piercy Island, at the very tip of Cape Brett.

COROMANDEL PENINSULA

Where: The Coromandel is the little bit that juts out on the east coast of the North Island. Surrounded by the Firth of Thames to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Main centres include Coromandel, Whitianga, Thames, Tairua and Whangamata. 

Tourists bathe in the thermal spring water at Hot Water Beach.
PETER DRURY/WAIKATO TIMES

Tourists bathe in the thermal spring water at Hot Water Beach.

Population: The Thames-Coromandel district has a population of 27,800. This jumps over summer though, as many Aucklanders own holiday homes in the area.

History: In 1820, the British naval ship HMS Coromandel (itself named for the Madras coast of India) called into the harbour to purchase kauri spars. The town, and peninsula, were subsequently named after the ship.

Climate: It depends on exactly where you are - mountains or lowlands. There can be two completely different weather pattens from the west to east, and north to south. The Coromandel can get a lot of rain. But summers are mild, with beautiful warm water for swimming.

New Chum Beach at Whangapoua on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Piotr Zurek

New Chum Beach at Whangapoua on the Coromandel Peninsula.

What it's all about: Beaches and surf spots. Diving and fishing. Hippies. Bike rides. Classic dairies and L&P. Pohutukawa. Rugged mountain ranges. Good old Kiwi camping. 

Any famous faces? TV star Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race, has a house in Matarangi and is a great advocate for New Chum Beach.

What to do there: Dig up your own private hot pool at Hot Water Beach. Check out the virtually untouched Cathedral Cove. Do the 82km Hauraki Rail Trail, stretching from Thames to Te Aroha - don't miss the breathtaking Karangahake Gorge section. Take a selfie with the giant L&P bottle at Paeroa. 

What do you like best about the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel Peninsula? Let us know in the comments after casting your vote.

 - Stuff

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