With its turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and towering rock formations, Cathedral Cove is one of New Zealand’s most popular sections of coastline. Set on the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove gains its name from the archway that separates its two beaches, and serves as a massive stone cathedral with views looking out at the coast. The water here is exceptionally clear, and is protected as part of the Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve. While most people visit on foot, it’s also possible to experience the cove by kayak, snorkel, or dive boat, all of which leave from the town of Hahei just a few minutes down the coast. Along the shaded cliff top walkway, large pohutukawa trees protrude out over the ledge, and provide a scenic canopy of green when strolling the sandy cove. Along with neighboring Hot Water Beach, which is just 10 minutes away, Cathedral Cove is a Coromandel highlight and popular day trip from Auckland.
Insider's Tip: If you’re staying in Hahei Beach, there’s a trail that leads from the western end of Hahei Beach and climbs the bluff to connect with the trail that leads to Cathedral Cove. Add an additional 20-30 minutes if you choose to hike from Hahei.
The hike to Cathedral Cove takes about 1.5 hours round trip, and while the track is graded and well signed, some sections of trail can be steep. Due to its popularity, Cathedral Cove can get very crowded, particularly on weekends or holidays, so try to visit early in the morning to avoid the afternoon crowds. There is ample parking at the Cathedral Cove parking lot, which is found at the end of Grange Road.