Track Update - OPEN
Before you go
- Allow plenty of time and wear appropriate footwear
- Take food and water, and carry out all your rubbish - no shops or bins down here!
- Guided trips with local Boat, Kayak & Taxi Operators
- Park in the Hahei Park & Ride (see below)
Cathedral Cove, The Coromandel
Located on the edge of the great Mercury Bay, close to the village of Hahei, famous Cathedral Cove is one of the “must visit” places in The Coromandel.
There are several scenic tracks on land adjacent to the reserve, including the 1.5hr return walk, which give walking access to Gemstone Bay, Mare's Leg and Cathedral Coves.
But the very best way to experience the magic of this place and to discover the secrets of the volcanic coastline from which it is formed, is to approach on the water, by boat or by kayak.
Where is Cathedral Cove?
The famous bay is located in Hahei, just 10 minutes' drive from the famous Hot Water Beach.
Walking access to Cathedral Cove starts at the top of Grange Road. Parking is at the Visitor Car Park on Pa Road, on the right as you enter Hahei. During the summer months, a shuttle service runs from the free visitor car park on Pa Road to the start of the Cathedral Cove track. Alternatively, you can walk from the car park around the beach to the start of the track which will add an extra 25 minutes.
It is here that you can also access Gemstone and Stingray Bays.
Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, Te Whanganui o Hei, covers 9 square kilometres and is New Zealand’s sixth marine reserve. It is administered by the Department of Conservation.
Ngāti Hei / History of Cathedral Cove
Te Whanganui o Hei is part of a special area first claimed by Hei, an esteemed spiritual tauira (authority), who sailed to Aotearoa on the waka Te Arawa, sometime around 1350 AD.
On a northbound voyage from the Bay of Plenty to Hauraki, Hei chose the area around Mercury Bay to settle with his people, Ngāti Hei. He proclaimed ownership by referring to Motueka Island as “Te kuraetangao-taku-Ihu” (the outward curve of my nose). It is said that he made this claim near the present-day town of Hahei.
Hei’s descendants, tangata whenua, have strong ancestral and spiritual attachments to the area and continue their role of kaitiaki (guardians) of the bountiful resources within it.
Te Whanganui o Hei Marine Reserve
Many Kiwis will be familiar with the spectacular coastal walk into Cathedral Cove, but perhaps the best way to explore the breathtaking coastline of the reserve is by kayak. Boating in and around this amazing coastline can be as simple as taking a guided scenic adventure boat tour or if you'd prefer to experience the underwater world, book a locally guided dive tour.
When to Visit Cathedral Cove
For those that choose to walk, remember that Cathedral Cove is most popular in Summer and Autumn (our Endless Summer). Beat the crowds and go at sunrise or early evening. Winter and Spring offer the best opportunities for photographers and those seeking a more secluded experience.
If you do choose to walk remember to hire snorkel gear or go on a guided snorkel trip with Cathedral Cove Dive & Snorkel. Follow the Department of Conservation snorkel trail and swim at the crystal clear Stingray Bay.
To make the most of your visit it is recommended that you go on a tour that will take you to dramatic scenery along the Pacific Coastline (including the impressive Orua Sea Cave, Champagne Rocks, Wai Ora Ana Blow Hole).
Boat Tours operate from the Whitianga Wharf and Ferry Landing. You can also do a 1-hour boat tour or 3-hour kayak tour from Hahei Beach. Tours offer an immersive insight into the history and fascinating geology. It is also quicker than walking and offers the chance to see marine wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.
Cathedral Cove Car Parking
Cathedral Cove Park and Ride is available from the Hahei Visitor car park, on the right as you enter Hahei. It only costs $7 return per person, $4 for a child and $14 for a family (2 adults 2 children) for the shuttle, parking all day is at no charge.
It is recommended that all visitors to Hahei Beach and Cathedral Cove use this free car park. Visitors can choose to walk from the North end of Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove, and using this track adds another 25 minutes to the walk.
The top car park on Grange Road is a pick-up and drop-off zone for the Shuttle. Parking is prohibited at Grange Road from 01 October - 30 April. Limited parking is available on Grange Rd from 1 May - 30 September at $15 for 4 hours.
An alternative and privately-owned car park is available during the summer months on Lees Road. This car park provides access to the walkway from a different starting point and reduces the walk time slightly.
There is limited mobility parking all year round at Grange Road. For the best experience, it is recommended to visit Cathedral Cove with a local boat tour.