Cathedral Cove, The Coromandel
Accessible only on foot, boat or kayak, famous Cathedral Cove is one of the “must visit” sites on The Coromandel.
There are several scenic tracks on land adjacent to the reserve, including the 2hr return walk to Cathedral Cove track, which gives access to Gemstone Bay, Mares Leg and Cathedral Cove.
To find out more about the Te-Whanganui-a-Hei Marine Reserve view the Department of Conservation fact sheet.
Where is Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove is located at Hahei, just 10minutes drive from the famous Hot Water Beach.
Foot access to Cathedral Cove starts at the top of Grange Road. Parking is at the Visitor Car Park on Pa Road (turn right just after entering Hahei). During the summer months a shuttle service runs from the 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 take an extra 20mins.
It is here that you can also access Gemstone Bay and Mares Leg.
Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, Te Whanganui- A-Hei, covers 9 square kilometres and is New Zealand’s sixth marine reserve. It is administered by the Department of Conservation.
Ngati Hei / History of Cathedral Cove
Te Whanganui-A-Hei is part of a special area first claimed by Hei, a Tauira (teacher/skilled person)
from the waka Te Arawa, some time 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. 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 site of Hahei.
Hei’s descendants still retain a strong ancestral and spiritual attachment to the area and continue their role of kaitiaki (guardians) of the bountiful resources within it.
Te Whanganui a 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 under water world book a local 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 to that will take you to dramatic scenery along the Pacific Coastline (including the impressive Orua Sea Cave, Champagne Rocks, Big Bay 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 $5 return per person, $3 for a child and $10 for a family (2 adults 2 children).
It is recommended that all visitors to Hahei Beach and Cathedral Cove use this car park (entry on the right of the main road just as you enter Hahei). Visitors can choose to walk from the North end of Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove, this track adds another 25 minutes to the walk.
The top car park (Grange Road) is a pick up and drop off zone for the Shuttle. Parking is prohibited at Grange Rd from the 1 October - 30 April. Limited parking is available on Grange Rd from 1 May - 30 September at $15 for 4 hours.
A thrid privatly operated 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 slightly.
There is limited mobility parking all year round. For the best experience it is recommended to visit Cathedral Cove with a local boat tour.
More information on parking can be found on the Thames Coromandel District Council Website