Hahei & Cathedral Cove
Accessible only on foot or by boat, famous Cathedral Cove is one of the “must visit” sites on the Coromandel Peninsula. The track begins at the northern end of Hahei. The Cathedral is a gigantic arched cavern that penetrates the headland between two coves. It gives an air of grandeur to the whole of the beach. The headland is the site of an ancient Maori pa (fortified village).
The beach is sandy with a pohutukawa backdrop, a perfect place for a picnic followed by a swim. Offshore a little way is a large pinnacle of pumice breccia known as "Te Hoho".
Delicately sculptured by wind and water to form a most impressive and unusual sight, it looks a bit like the prow of a large ship steaming into the beach. The offshore islands provide a breakwater making the area ideal swimming, boating and fishing.
Cathedral Cove Walk
There are several scenic tracks on land adjacent to the reserve, including the 2hr return walk to Cathedral Cove track, which gives access to Gemstone Bay, Mares Leg and Cathedral Cove. You can reach the cove via the Hahei Coastal Walkway, a hilly walk (45min) that starts off along Hahei Beach Road and leads along bush-lined ridges, affording sweeping seaviews along the way.
Foot access to the Cathedral Cove car park is at the western end of Hahei Beach and vehicle access is up Grange Road (turn left past shops and go all the way to end of Grange Road).
The film company Wimbleweather shot the opening scenes of Prince Caspian in the seaside township of Hahei.
The set for the ruins of the castle Cair Paravel was built on the nearby Hereherataura Peninsula, overlooking Cathedral Cove, with its scenic crescent of white sand and dramatic natural rock arch.
Te Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve
This is the first marine reserve established on the Coromandel Peninsula and is officially named Te Whanganui A Hei: (Cathedral Cove). The reserve boundaries are physically marked by large white posts placed on the islands and at each end of the mainland boundary.
There are definitely far more snapper inside the marine reserve than outside, and the fish inside are often much bigger. The snorkeling can be quite spectacular when the water is clear.
Hot Water Beach
A truly unique Kiwi experience that every New Zealander should experience at least once in their lifetime! An underground spring of hot water flows from the interior of the earth to surface in the Pacific Ocean at Hot Water Beach – a long beautiful white beach located between Tairua and Whitianga.
The stunning beach overlooks the Pacific Ocean and offshore Castle Rock, with Pohutukawa lined cliffs at either end of the beach. Two hours either side of low tide visitors flock to Hot Water Beach to find hot water bubbling through the golden sand. Families, kids and couples can been seen digging their own spa pool in the sand to lie back in and relax while the steam from their hot pool envelopes them.
Blue Water Motel provides spades free of charge for guests to use. With the ebb and flow of the tide each individually created hot pool is washed away clearing the way for the next influx of visitors.
The beach also boasts some great surf, cruisy cafés and galleries and is a 5 minute drive to another Coromandel ‘must do’ – the walk into Cathedral Cove.
Tairua – A Perfect Base for Exploring The Coromandel
Tairua is a small, friendly seaside town on the coast of the rugged, bush-clad Coromandel Peninsula. From the summit of Mount Paku there are a panoramic views of ocean, islands, beaches and the Tairua River stretching up towards the mountainous backbone of the
Coromandel. Another spectacular view is to be found at the top of Tairua's famous stairs to Gazebo Lookout, especially stunning at sunrise or at sunset.
We are blessed with a wonderful golden surf beach, a harbour, an ocean rich in marine life and we are surrounded by native bush. The town has everything you could need in the way of amenities including shops, restaurants, diving and fishing operators, a petrol station, a golf course and a children's playground.
The 309 Road
This scenic road follows the Mahakirau stream up from State Highway 25, going through farmland, scrub, and native bush. The hill country in this area includes ancient volcanic activity, see the craggy Castle Rock (526m) and then a ‘sister rock’ Pukewhakataratara (394m), just south of Manaia. Once over the summit (306 metres) it meanders down the Waiau Valley, through more bush and pine forest.
PLEASE NOTE: The 309 road is in places steep, winding and often unsealed so drive slowly and carefully.
The Kauri Grove is a group of Kauri trees about 1.5 km after the summit. It has been protected from before the turn of the century. Kauri trees are famous in New Zealand because of the size they grow to, and their excellent timber. They are now fully protected; the ones in the photo are about 1000 years old. There is a carpark on the left of the road, and an easy graveled walking track into the bush on the right. The walk takes about ten minutes, but you need 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour to appreciate it fully. This scenic road follows the Mahakirau stream up from State Highway 25, going through farmland, scrub, and native bush.
Further on up the road, it’s only a short walk to the Waiau Falls. It is a beautiful bush glade where the Waiau crashes over a rock face, and into a pool below. There are access tracks both upstream and down. Another place for a swim. Allow 1/4 of an hour plus. (Pictured to the left).
Castle Rock is an old volcano core that rises above the bush, on the "backbone" of the peninsula. To climb it you leave the 309 road just before you get to The Waterworks, and drive 2 km up through the pine forest. There you set off on foot up a clay road, and then a walking track in the native bush. Some places can be a bit muddy after rain. The last few metres is a scramble up, holding onto bits of tree root and rocks to the top. There is a panoramic view that makes it well worth the effort! The walk takes about 3/4 of an hour up, and 1/2 an hour down. No problems for any fit adult, or child older than about 3 or 4. Allow two hours altogether, and wear appropriate footwear.
Check out The Waterworks, several acres of whimsical water wizardry and gadgetry in a garden setting, with a cafe too. Play and delight in the whimsical and wondrous creations, where you can squirt water from bike powered pumps, do battle with water cannons, ride the flying foxes, play in the mouse wheel, race tiny boats. Smile at Kay’s sculptures, figure out how the water clock works, and enjoy the many other fun things to see and do. Fun and Funny! (Pictured to the right).