Updates for Cathedral Cove walks, tracks and beaches that are open or closed
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Updates for Cathedral Cove walks, tracks and beaches that are open or closed

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Updates of Cathedral Cove walks, tracks and beaches that are open or closed

In 2023 the Cathedral Cove walking track was closed due to significant damage to the main walking track, landslides, rockfalls and the safety risks of land instability resulting from a number of severe weather events that affected the Coromandel region in early 2023. The Department of Conservation (DOC) are working on repairs and are offering alternative walks and experiences for visitors. This article shares the most recent announcements and updates from DOC on the Cathedral Cove recreational area in Hahei.

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The following information is provided via the Department of Conservation (DOC) sources. Information may be subject to change, see the DOC website homepage  or the DOC Cathedral Cove Walk pages for  more details.

Please see the Things to do and Transport & getting around pages for local operators taking visitors to Cathedral Cove.

Cathedral Cove update 26 January 2024

Community Engagement Initiates

DOC have commenced community engagement activities, utilising three distinct surveys aimed at gathering feedback from visitors, residents, and local businesses. This engagement process is crucial in understanding public sentiments towards Cathedral Cove, identifying preferred options, and assessing the likelihood of success.

Visitor Survey Launching 27th January

Starting from January 27th and extending until mid-February, the Department of Conservation (DOC) will be conducting a comprehensive visitor survey for Cathedral Cove.

This survey is open to all Cathedral Cove visitors and serves the purpose of gauging their expectations, contributing valuable insights to shape the future visitor experience. Trained DOC staff will be stationed at either Hahei Beach or the Whitianga Wharf throughout the survey period. They will approach visitors disembarking from water transport from Cathedral Cove, inviting them to complete a brief questionnaire after their visit.

The questionnaire is a slightly modified version of DOC's Short Walk/Day Hike questionnaire, previously administered at Cathedral Cove during four summer seasons (2017-2021). The aggregated results will be made publicly available.

Doc would like to extend their gratitude to local marine operators for providing information on their schedules during the Auckland Anniversary weekend. This ensures our ability to intercept as many visitors as possible upon their return from Cathedral Cove.

Residents' and Business Survey

Residents and businesses can anticipate receiving more details about local engagement and feedback opportunities starting from February. Stay tuned for ways to share your perspectives on the future of Cathedral Cove.

January 2024

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has implemented visitor arrangements for the Cathedral Cove/Hahei area for summer 2023/24 as part of an effort to support the Coromandel tourism economy. These measures are in place while the walking track to Cathedral Cove beach remains closed for safety reasons.

DOC's summer offer for the Cathedral Cove/Hahei area is designed to distribute walking visitors across various sites, including Hereheretaura and Te Pare, Grange Road Lookout, and a loop track from the Lees Road Car Park to McHand's Lookout, located to the north of Cathedral Cove.

Cathedral Cove Track images

Cathedral Cove Beach Access

In the summer of 2023-24, Cathedral Cove itself will provide a marine-based experience, with several commercial operators offering services that include brief stays on the beach. The international marketing of Cathedral Cove emphasises this marine-based experience.

Both DOC and Ngāti Hei continue to advise against using the walking track down to Cathedral Cove, emphasising its unsafe condition and confirming that it will not be reinstated for summer 2023-24. Barriers will be in place to prevent access, and visitors are urged not to proceed beyond them. Geotechnical experts have identified a high risk associated with using the track compared to similar locations managed by DOC.

What you need to know when visiting Cathedral Cove

The Cathedral Cove Walk track is currently closed. The only access to the area is by boat.

There are significant risks associated with high rockfall and landslides in the vicinity, as indicated in the image provided by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

For those who choose to visit the area, it is strongly advised to adhere to the following precautions:

  • Maintain a safe distance of 10 metres from the cliffs at all times.
  • Avoid the beach during or after heavy rainfall, as the risk of rockfalls and landslides is highest during these conditions. It's crucial to note that such incidents can also occur in good weather.
  • Refrain from standing or walking under the cove's arch, as rockfalls have occurred in this area and may happen again.
  • Stay off tracks within the vicinity.
  • Exercise caution regarding falling rocks at the north-western end of the beach at Stingray Bay – this specific area is closed.

If individuals are uncomfortable with the associated risks, it is recommended to view the area from a boat rather than landing on the beach, or consider not visiting the area altogether.

Furthermore, it is essential to be aware of the rapid and unpredictable changes in weather conditions that are characteristic of this location. Visitors should be prepared for sudden weather shifts and plan accordingly.

Safety at Cathedral Cove

Alternative walking options at Cathedral Cove

An update on visitor experiences in Hahei includes the creation of alternative experiences near Cathedral Cove, ensuring that visitors to Coromandel can still appreciate the beauty of the coastline. These experiences, developed through collaboration between DOC, Ngāti Hei, and operators, encourage visitors to explore other beaches and walks in the Mercury Bay area, specifically targeting day trip visitors.

Improvements to existing tracks and the creation of new routes to culturally significant sites, such as historic pa Hereheretaura and Te Pare, have been undertaken. Tiaki Rangers, employed by DOC, caution visitors about the ongoing safety risk at Cathedral Cove while providing information on other nearby coastal walking locations and sharing Ngāti Hei cultural stories.

Parking for Cathedral Cove

The Grange Road platform in Hahei offers sweeping views across the Mercury Islands and Te Whanganui-o-Hei Marine Reserve. It will serve as a drop-off-only location with no parking options, and pedestrians can access the Grange Road lookout point. Seating and picnic areas have been established, and traffic flows will be monitored collaboratively by DOC and Thames-Coromandel District Council.

Lees Road Access to Cathedral Cove Lookout (McHands Lookout)

A new loop track to McHand's Lookout has been completed, accessed via the Lees Road carpark. This 90-minute return track provides expansive views over Te Whanganui-O-Hei Marine Reserve and the greater Mercury Bay.

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