Cathedral Cove, near Hahei is a popular tourist destination located within the Te-Whangaui-A-Hei Marine Reserve. The Cove gets its name from the naturally formed “Cathedral” archway carved out by the sea and wind over thousands of years. It is only accessible by foot, boat/water taxi or kayak for the adventurous.
The 2.5km (1.6 miles) coastal walk takes you past quintessential Coromandel scenery of pohutukawa trees and white sandy beaches. As well as Cathedral Cove itself, there are many beautiful places to explore along the way including Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay (known for being wonderful diving and snorkelling spots).
The track is well-maintained, but there are inclines and the steps down to the Cove require a reasonable level of fitness to come back up. Due to this, it is not stroller, pushchair or wheelchair friendly.
The walk takes around 30 mins each way but you’ll want to allow time to enjoy the sights along the way as well as time at Cathedral Cove itself.
The public start of the walkway is in Hahei, a 10 minute drive from Flaxmill. Follow Grange Road (just past the Hahei shops) up the hill to the start of the track.
A paid ‘park and ride’ service operates in Summer as the carpark at the top becomes a ‘drop off only’ zone. See our parking tips in the next section.
There is also access to the main walkway via the coastal track at the northern end of Hahei Beach, however this will add another 20 minutes to your journey.
Or, instead of accessing the walkway from Hahei, there is a private walkway, the Cathedral Cove Gateway Trail which meanders through farmland from Lees Road and joins the main track half way along. There is an entry fee to access this walkway which includes car parking.
Hahei and the start of the main walkway is a 10 minute drive from Flaxmill. If you wish to walk the new Gateway trail, this is located off Lees Road (on your left on the main road through before you get to Hahei).
2.5kms, taking about 30-40 mins each way
There are public toilets in the carpark at start of the walkway, or in Hahei.
There are steep stairs going down to Cathedral Cove – what goes down, must come up!
There are local tour boats that can take you to the Cove, however they have fixed seats so cannot cater for wheelchairs.
Sea Cave Adventures offer boat tours around the coast from Whitianga Wharf, so if you can negotiate a small flight of steps, they can help you to a seat.
Good walking shoes, camera, drinking water, sunscreen, hat, swimwear/towel.
There are no shops on the track so if you want food, you’ll need to it with you. There are many wonderful places to have a picnic.
Make sure you’re not on the wrong side of the ‘hole in the rock’ when the tide comes in. It can come in very quickly and you might have to get wet trying to get back to the walkway!
There are local operators in Hahei and Whitianga who run boat, kayak or snorkelling/dive tours which take in the Marine Reserve and Cathedral Cove coastline. See our On The Water ideas.
The carpark at the start of the walkway is very small. It quickly fills up during weekends and winter school holidays and from 1 October to 30 April, it is a ‘drop off only’ zone.
If you have good walking fitness, you can park down the road and walk up Grange Road, or during the summer months, there is a paid ‘park and ride‘ service which operates daily from 9am to 6pm.
Visit the Thames Coromandel District Council website for information about where to park in Hahei.