Exploring Cathedral Cove


By Orla O Muiri

3 minute read

Get hold of your free New Zealand Trails brochure here

White sandy beaches, stunning rock formations and clear turquoise waters define the Coromandel Coast, and Cathedral Cove is the pinnacle of it all. This slice of paradise can be found at Hahei on the North Island where we’ll venture on our Sweet North tour - just one of the incredible places we visit on our New Zealand hiking and adventure tours. Read on to find out the best ways to explore the area.

Fun facts about Cathedral Cove

  • Cathedral Cove New Zealand is only accessible on foot or by boat! On our Sweet North tour, we take you there by kayak!
  • It is part of the Te Whanganui-a-Hei Marine Reserve. The reserve is nine square kilometres in size and features reefs, intricate caves and underwater arches teeming with life. It is New Zealand’s sixth marine reserve.
  • Cathedral Cove features in the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian!
  • Mercury Bay was first settled by Māori under the leadership of Hei. His descendants still retain a strong attachment to the area.

Top Things to do in Cathedral Cove New Zealand

One of our favourite things about Cathedral Cove is that it can’t be accessed by car, so go explore this incredible space by human power!

Explore on foot

The walk from Hahei to Cathedral Cove is 2.5km and will take roughly one and a half hours. Park up at Hahei Village Entry Carpark and make your way to the cove, passing many great sites like Stingray Bay along the way. You can also park at the top lookout and it is a 45-minute walk down to Cathedral Cove.

Cathedral Cove kayak

Our favourite way to explore this paradise is by joining one of the Cathedral Cove kayak tours. You’ll be awed with every paddle stroke as you explore limestone cliffs, the intricate volcanic coastline, glide underneath archways and into sea caves. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Couple on a Cathedral Cove kayak, Coromandel

Enjoy the serenity on a Cathedral Cove kayak trip.

Explore the underwater world

The Coromandel is one of the best spots in New Zealand to go diving. There are areas for beginners and advanced alike. This is the ultimate destination to take your first ever dive trip or to do your PADI dive training. Or simply grab a snorkel and go explore yourself; the Gemstone Bay Snorkel Trail is one of our favourites routes to follow.

Go sailing/boating

Another incredible way of experiencing Cathedral Cove New Zealand out on the water is by boat! It’s one of the best ways to learn about the fascinating geology and history of the area. Boat tours operate regularly from the Whitianga Wharf and Ferry Landing. For something truly adventurous, go sailing!

Best time to visit Cathedral Cove

The North Island is blessed with mild winters, making Cathedral Cove a great destination to travel to year-round. The peak season is summer and autumn (December to April) when temperatures are at their highest but the area will also be at its busiest.

Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Coast

Any time of year is good at Cathedral Cove - even winter if you're brave!

Explore Cathedral Cove with New Zealand Trails

On day two of our Sweet North tour, we’ll explore the Coromandel Coast from the water, kayaking to the iconic Cathedral Cove!

If you want to find out more about the incredible 5-14 day hiking tours we run in New Zealand, you can request a free copy of our brochure here.


Let’s talk – we’d love to hear what you think. Pop your details in below and have your say.

  • MmzHrrdb, USA September 2023


  • MmzHrrdb, USA September 2023


  • MmzHrrdb, USA September 2023


  • MmzHrrdb, USA September 2023


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