Cathedral Cove Walk

Cathedral Cove Walk

Cathedral Cove Walk


286 Rankers Reviews

265 Face-to-Face

2 Hahei

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Through the arch at Cathedral Cove
The beautiful sandy beach just before Cathedral Cove


5 km return | 1 hour 30 minutes return

Amazingly beautiful, and you might even recognise Cathedral Cove from the opening scene from one of the Chronicals of Narnia movies, Prince Caspian.

The coastline around Hahei ranks as some of the most unique and interesting of the North Island. Unusual rock formations, intimate scenery and Marine Reserve-protected waters add to the enticing atmosphere around this coastline.

Foot access to Cathedral Cove starts at the top of Grange Road. Parking is at the Visitor Car Park on Pa Road (turn right just after entering Hahei). During the summer months a shuttle service runs from the visitor car park on Pa Road to the start of the Cathedral Cove track. It only costs $5 return per person, $3 for a child and $10 for a family (2 adults 2 children). It is recommended that all visitors to Hahei Beach and Cathedral Cove use this car park.

The top car park (Grange Road) is a pick up and drop off zone for the Shuttle only. Parking is prohibited at Grange Rd from the 1 October - 30 April. Limited parking is available on Grange Rd from 1 May - 30 September at $15 for 4 hours.


At high tide, Stingray Bay is nearly submerged and to pass through the arch at Cathedral Cove will mean wet feet. Go Kiwi and take off your shoes.


From Hahei shops take the signposted road to the lookout carpark.

Parking is a nightmare. If there’s nothing available at the main carpark, which is highly likely during the busy summer months, return to the beach at Hahei. Access is from a metalled coastal path that leaves from the northern end of Hahei Beach carpark (allow an extra 25 minutes each way).


The path is metalled, well-maintained and comprehensively signposted. It undulates between the bays, all of which form worthwhile detours. The path through the puriri grove is unmetalled and uneven.

The walk to Cathedral Cove also has options to visit Gemstone Bay, Stingray Bay and Mare’s Leg Cove.

Toilet facilities are available near the carpark and at Mare’s Leg Cove.

There is also a magnificent lookout platform at the carpark.


Cathedral Cove is so named because of the natural rock arch joining it to Mare’s Leg Cove. Sea caves such as this are formed by the continuous erosion of waves exploiting a weakness in the rock. This process enlarges a cave on both sides of the headland until they eventually meet to form an arch. In time, this arch will collapse to form an offshore stack such as 30-metre high Te Hoho Rock at the northern end of Cathedral Cove. The present sculpture perches on a pedestal, carved by the undercutting power of the waves. It will eventually collapse to form a reef.

Much of the rock in the region was ejected by a fierce volcanic eruption around 8 million years ago. This loosely bound matrix of ash and pumice is now exploited by rain and wind to form a weathering pattern resembling honeycomb. You can see the lattice on Te Hoho Rock and the headlands. This form of honeycomb weathering is manifested by salt crystals expanding with wetting, levering apart the fine grains of the granulated ignimbrite rock. Wind then eddies around the hollow and enlarges it to form the cavity. When similar patterns emerge in close proximity, the effect produces a honeycomb lattice, hence the process’ name – honeycomb weathering.

Semi-precious stones such as jasper were found at Gemstone Bay, hence its name.

Mare’s Leg Cove was formerly dominated by a rock formation jutting out from the end of the headland. This resembled the hind leg of a mare, but collapsed due to natural causes in the 1970’s.


Because the puriri tree is forever-flowering, there will always be a carpet of pink flowers on this shortcut. These trees are thought to be 150 years old. In places their graceful, yet gnarled branches almost touch the ground.

Most of the vegetation alongside the track is regenerating scrub.


This stretch of coastline forms part of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve. All marine life is protected. Established in 1992, the reserve aims to help restore the rich and varied marine habitats that exist within its boundaries. Respect the information concerning restrictions posted on signs. Do not feed the fish.

The graceful form of the stingray can sometimes be seen feeding from the rocks at Stingray Bay.

Polynesian History

The many offshore islands are sacred to the local Maori, who arrived here in around 1350 A.D.

At the southern end of Hahei Beach is Hereheretaura pa, evidenced by the remains of the defensive ditch and hollows, which were used as food storage pits.

On sighting the beautiful coastline, the sail master Hei called out. He thought the outward curve of a headland on one of the offshore islands resembled the shape of his nose. The area was thus named Te-O-a-Hei, meaning the exclamation of Hei. After burial at Hereheretaura pa, his bones were removed to Tokatea (Castle Rock).

European History

The area was originally farmed by the Wigmore Family.


The magnificent lookout platform at the carpark not only offers panoramic views of greater Mercury Bay, offshore islands and Te Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve, but provides interpretive panels introducing the region’s geology and history.


Feature Value Info


DOC Coromandel

Central government organisation


North IslandCoromandelHahei


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 261.

Michael's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

One sentence.
Most beautiful place on planet earth.

Reviewed about 4 years ago

Matt McCloskey's avatar

Matt McCloskey

United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

Lovely walk with spectacular views and stunning coves. Very well signposted and easy tarmaced track. Quite touristy and busy carpark but if you stop off at Stingray Cove on the way it is much quieter.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Rachael Gray's avatar

Rachael Gray


Ranking: 7/10

The walk was nice, forest was pleasant but not the most exciting. The Cove was very cool and the beach very pretty even in rainy weather but there were way too many people to enjoy it fully.

Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Martin Fersebner's avatar

Martin Fersebner


Ranking: 7/10

Amazing location but too many people that you cannot enjoy it.

Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Chaulet's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Amazing landscape.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Matthias and Adriane's avatar

Matthias and Adriane


Ranking: 8/10

We came here in the evening and were almost alone. The beach is magical in the evening light. It is a nice walk through a typical forest and it was our start to almost four weeks in New Zealand.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in February 2017

Clementine's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Amazing place. You need to go early in the morning if you want to see the beach without people. You need 45 minutes to easy walk to go on the beach. It is so beautiful.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Michael's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

A nice white beach and beautiful landscape.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

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Mireia Sanchez's avatar

Mireia Sanchez


Ranking: 10/10

Really nice walk through a well signed path and nice arriving at the beach.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Peter's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Nice walk, great beaches and a view over the ocean.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Gretha's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Very nice walk, easy and easy to find. The beach was lovely and the view great.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Claudia Schaefer's avatar

Claudia Schaefer


Ranking: 8/10

Track and cove themselves are wonderful but when we arrived (2pm), the place was crowded with cards and people, I would choose another time to visit it next time.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Anne's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful beach, walk not too exhausting, not many people if you are lucky (very few in September), nice views over the beach, impressive and unique landscape.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in October 2016

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner