Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula,New Zealand

Cathedral Cove is arguably one of the most picturesque spots (and there are many) in The Coromandel Peninsula.

From beautiful Hahei Beach you can walk to Cathedral Cove, where a naturally formed archway deserves photographic attention.

From the north end of the beach, a one hour walking track leads along the cliff top and then descends to the Cove. 

Here a gigantic arched cavern passes through a white rock headland to join two secluded coves. 

The cathedral like arch gives whole area an air of grandeur. 

The beach is sandy with shady pohutukawa trees along the foreshore a perfect place for a picnic and a swim.

Just off the beach at Cathedral Cove is a large pinnacle of pumice breccia rock known as 'Te Hoho'. 

Over centuries this has been sculpted by wind and water it now looks like the prow of a large ship steaming into the beach.

If you prefer a slightly shorter walk (about 1.5 hours return), start from the car park at the end of Grange Road in Hahei,turn left just after the Hahei shops.

For snorkellers and scuba divers, Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve provides a visual feast of sponge gardens, reef systems and marine life to observe.

This recreation reserve, gifted to the nation in the 1.980s by Vaughan and Doreen Harsant, boasts some of New Zealand’s most spectacular coastal scenery. 

A walking track gives access to Gemstone Bay, Stingray Bay and the beautiful sandy beaches at Cathedral Cove separated by a rock arch. 

Although this track is well graded, there are some hill slopes so allow plenty of time for the walk, wear appropriate footwear, and take food and water with you.

The track drops steadily from the car park into a valley where a side loop track takes you through a puriri grove and then back onto the main track. 

Alternatively, you can take a side track down to Gemstone Bay which has a bouldery beach and snorkel trail or, a little further on, another side track to Stingray Bay.

Stingray Bay has some large boulders with a beautiful sandy beach beyond. 

Special features are a sea cave and honeycomb weathering on the cliff face across the bay. 

Please note the north-western end of the beach at Stingray Bay is closed due to the danger of falling rocks and debris from the cliffs above. 

Visitors are advised not to use this end of the beach or adjacent waters. 

Signs and markers are in place to identify and warn people of the danger area.

Back on the main track, you climb out of the valley up to a high point overlooking the coastline. Stop, catch your breath and admire the view of the offshore islands. 

The track then crosses pasture and scrubland before entering pine forest with a good understorey of native shrubs. 

From here, it is all downhill to Cathedral Cove and even though this means there is a climb back off the beach for the return journey, it is well worth it to experience the beauty of the place.
Please take care when walking through the arch separating the two beaches at Cathedral Cove. 

Rockfall hazards exist in and around the arch and could occur at any time due to ongoing natural weathering and erosion. 

A management regime is in place to monitor the condition of the arch to make it as safe as possible.

There is a walking track from the western end of Hahei beach up to Cathedral Cove car park to connect with the track to Cathedral Cove. 

Allow an extra 20 - 30 minutes for this walk.

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