It's been years since I've been up the Western side of the Coromandel. Last weekend was awesome weather, so my wife and I jumped in the car and took off. The quickest way from Tauranga is up through the Waihi Gorge, but that's not the fun way! We drove over the Kaimai Ranges, then up the Old Te Aroha Road. This highway follows the edge of the ranges North from near Matamata to Te Aroha, then through Paeroa to Thames. It's a bit more windy, and narrower, but it gives you a chance to enjoy the view.