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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrCathedral Cove is a beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand, named for the arching cave linking Cathedral Cove to Mare's Leg Cove. Here the huge arched cavern passes through a white rock headland to join two secluded coves. The sandy beach has shady pohutakawa trees along the foreshore, making it a perfect place to stop for a picnic and take a dip in the clear waters. Cathedral Cove forms part of the Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve.
GeologyThe cliffs surrounding Cathedral Cove are made of white massive ignimbrite, a rock produced by explosive volcanic eruptions about eight million years ago. A little offshore is a pinnacle of pumice breccia rock, known as "Te Hoho". Centuries of wind and water has shaped this rock to look like a ship's prow approaching the beach.
HistoryThe Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve is known as "Te Whanganui-a-Hei" in the indigenous Maori language, meaning "the Great Bay of Hei". According to Maori legend, Hei was a tohunga (an expert practitioner of a skill/art) who chose the area around Mercury Bay as home for his tribe. He proclaimed ownership by calling Motueka Island "Te Kuraetanga-o-taku-Ihu" (the outward curve of my nose).
The cave and beach was used as the tunnel through which the Pevensie children first re-enter Narnia in the movie version of "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian". More recently, the cove was used as a location in the music video of "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Cathedral Cove WalkThis trail will blow you away with its spectacular coastal scenery. The track leads down to Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay, as well as Cathedral Cove. The trail covers 2.5 kilometers, and takes around 1 hour 30 minutes return. It is an easy walk, although there are some hill slopes.
From the end of Grange Road at Hahei, 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 a snorkel trail or, a little further on, another side track to Stingray Bay. Stingray Bay has some large boulders with a beautiful sandy beach. Take time to admire the sea cave and honeycomb weathering on the cliff face across the bay.
Back on the main track, the trail leads you out of the valley up to a viewpoint overlooking the coastline. The trail then traverses pasture and scrubland before entering pine forest with beautiful native shrubs. From here, it is all downhill to Cathedral Cove.
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.
Cathedral Cove Marine ReserveThe Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve is paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers, with sponge gardens, reef systems and diverse marine life.
The reserve stretches from the northern end of Hahei Beach to Cook Bluff Scenic Reserve. Crayfish and black angel fish hide in the cracks and crevices of reefs around Mahurangi Island, while in the large boulder fields near Motueka Island, schools of sweep may follow you. Delicate coral are also found close to the surface in Poikeke Island cave. On the rocky platforms close to shore, you can find starfish and red moki among the seaweed.
A great snorkeling trail is found in Gemstone Bay, where you can swim to a series of marker buoys carrying information about the species you may encounter in the area. The position of each buoy coincides with different habitats within the bay.
KayakingBoat and kayaking tours depart from Whitianga in the north as well as Hahei to the south. Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours have multiple options available, lead you through sea caves and around volcanic islands in the marine reserve. Prices start from 105 NZD for adults. Check out http://www.seakayaktours.co.nz/ for more details.
How to Get ThereCathedral Cove is accessible only on foot, boat or kayak. From the north end of Hahei Beach, a one hour walking track leads along the cliff top and then descends to the Cove. Alternatively you can start at the car park at the end of Grange Road in Hahei (turn left just after the Hahei shops), and walk for around 45 minutes to reach the Cove.
Further infoCathedral Cove is a popular tourist attraction, and is best enjoyed early or late in the day to avoid the worst of the crowds.
Take care when walking under the stone arch separating the two beaches. Rockfall hazards do exist, and can occur at any time due to ongoing natural weathering and erosion.
For more information on Cathedral Cove check out the Whitianga i-site visitors center on Albert Street in Whitianga, or the Kauaeranga Visitor Center on Kauaeranga Valley Road in Thames.
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Author: Amanda. Last updated: Dec 01, 2015