The Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand is gifted with many scenic natural attractions, but one spot that easily stands out is Cathedral Cove.
The cove earned its name because of its most distinct feature; a huge cathedral-like arched cavern that goes through a white rock headland. Another distinct physical feature of the cove is the large pumice breccia rock formation called Te Hoho. Situated just off the beach, Te Hoho has earned its unique shape, which looks like the prow of a ship, after frequent exposure from wind and water for centuries. Cathedral Cove is secluded and sandy adorned by pohutukawa trees that provide shade to visitors. It is the perfect getaway spot for those seeking for a relaxing swim and picnic.
Cathedral Cove is usually accessed from Hahei Beach. From the northern section of this beach, there is a track that leads to a cliff top, and eventually descends to the Cathedral Cove area. This hiking track to the cove is considered to be a highlight activity by most travel experts. This reputation is because the hike provides you with amazing views of the cove’s breathtaking coastline characterized by limestone cliffs, distant volcanoes, and clear ocean water. A return hike through the track can be completed in about two hours, and features views of the Mares Leg, Stingray Bay and Gemstone Bay on the top of the Cathedral Cove itself. These bays have their own beautiful sandy beaches where you can stop by to enjoy.
When you finally decide to do the walk, make sure that you wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water with you. The walk also has steep sections so set sufficient time to complete it. Before leaving the cliff top and climbing down to Cathedral Cove, take a moment to admire the coastline and offshore islands, which are dramatically visible from this high point.
There is a shorter walking route to the cove, which starts from the car park located at tip of Grange Road in the Hahei neighborhood. In addition, you can find other scenic trails around the cove area. Aside from hiking, you can also choose reach Cathedral Cove by boating and kayaking.
Just offshore of the cove lies the Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve also named Te Whanganui-A-Hei. Encompassing an area of 9 square kilometers, the reserve makes a great spot for snorkeling and scuba diving excursions as it is home to a wide range of marine creatures and habitats as well as extensive reef systems. Te Whanganui A Hei is the first reserve to be established in the Coromandel Peninsula, and is the 6th official marine reserve in all of New Zealand.
The marine park has underwater arches, soft sediments and cave systems that make ideal sanctuary for fish, plants, mollusks and crustaceans. A number of tourists prefer to kayak their way to the marine reserve area. You can rent the kayak on your own and go for a self-guided trip or sign up for an organized tour. With a tour, an experienced local guide can show you the limestone archways and sea caves.