Though Alice McMullin was born in Auckland, she spent a lot of time in the coastal town of Coromandel on New Zealand’s North Island. It’s a place she still visits frequently today when she’s looking for inspiration for her eponymous, Sydney-based furniture and homewares brand, and where she recommends any visitors to New Zealand visit too.
“My connection to this area runs deep with my great-great-grandparents owning a beach house in the Coromandel that our family has continued to own and visit over the years,” says McMullin.
“The natural palette of earthly colours that surrounds me here instils a profound sense of calm and serenity. These tranquil tones of the land, sea, and sky serve as a muse for me, influencing our McMullin colour palette in a significant way.”
Today, McMullin says Coromandel is still a gathering spot for her family, and that on visits, they’ll relax by the beach and enjoy the slower pace of life with their kids and friends. For visitors, she recommends it as a place to explore to get a genuine feel for the idyllic Kiwi batch (“beach house”) lifestyle.
“In these quieter, coastal areas, you’ll have the opportunity to meet some wonderful local characters, catch seafood right in front of your place, enjoy organic homegrown produce from local markets and discover hidden gem junk shops that haven’t yet been overrun by tourists,” she says.
As for how long she recommends you spend in Coromandel, McMullin suggests five to 10 days. Though, she does note that’s based on her personal preference of spending longer in one place so she can fully immerse herself in its atmosphere and unwind. In Coromandel, though, this time will give you the chance to savour the beauty and culture of the area at a slow pace.
“You can explore not only the immediate surroundings but also venture up and down the stunning North Island coastline,” she says. “The areas I recommend exploring are the Thames Firth, the charming Coromandel township and the picturesque Slipper Island.”
Ahead, McMullin shares some of her tips for where to eat, stay and play in Coromandel.
The Best Things to Do in Coromandel
“Collect pipis from the Te Puru Beach, you can literally dig your feet into the sand, and it is thick with them,” she says. “Coroglen tavern for some local music gigs. And snorkelling at Slipper Island.”
The Best Restaurants in Coromandel
“You’ve got to try the Mussel Kitchen in Coromandel town; they’ve got the freshest mussels you’ll ever taste. Every single dish is amazing. And while you’re on the road, don’t miss a stop at Luke’s Kitchen in Coromandel. It’s a local gem with heaps of character, and the food there is delicious.”
The Best Accommodation in Coromandel
“I’d highly recommend Slipper Island. It’s a private island located just 15 minutes away from Tairua via water taxi. Nestled among New Zealand’s native trees with crystal-clear blue waters, it’s truly one of the Coromandel’s hidden gems that you really can’t beat.”