An early morning rise and walk along Hahei beachfront, at the end of the beach the path rises up into the cliffs past cool looking beach homes overlooking the bay, the walk is along the cliff top with various paths down to smaller coves along the way such as Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay. The pathway offers a clear sweep of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve around Cathedral Cove with islands dotted out in the bay and the pull and tug of the sweeping sea tides visible on the surface. We reach cathedral Cove via a steep staircase descending down to beach level, it’s a busy place already, photographic hotspot if you like. The cove is divided into two separated beaches linked by the cathedral archway an opening in the cliff face. The tidal waters still ebb and flow around the edges of the opening but it is possible to walk through. The high ceiling has caused some concern recently as parts have fallen in, enough to suggest it may be closed off the public at some point, but for now we wander through the cool passageway, above us the ceiling looks solid enough for now.

Hahei Beach
The wide expanse of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve
Motueka Island and the smaller Poikeke Island
The ebba and flow of the sea above Cathedral Cove
Motueka Island and the smaller Poikeke Island
Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve around Cathedral Cove
The arch of Cathedral Cove
The arch of Cathedral Cove with Te Hoho Rock in the background
The arch of Cathedral Cove
Glimpse of the Bay

Less easy is to capture the opening without people standing in the way, we have been warned to get up early to reach the Cove in the morning but that just wasn’t going to happen after we were the last to leave the pub last night, is it me or is the sun just that bit brighter this morning ? We sit on the sands and laugh with a group of locals Maori who are having a great time mucking about in the sea. At the end of the beach is another long collapsed arch Te Hoho Rock now a solitary stack just a few meters from the shoreline, strangely reminiscent of a shark’s fin.

The footpath above Hahei Beach
The footpath above Hahei Beach
Canoeist arriving from the sea, Te Hoho Rock
Te Hoho Rock
The arch from the other side
Te Hoho Rock
Te Hoho Rock
The roof of the arch, Cathedral Cove
Islands out in the bay
Blue skies above Hahei Beach, offshore is Goat Island

By late morning it starts to get crowded so we decide to head back up the steps to the top of the cliff, this isn’t so easy with the amount of people now coming down the steps to the beach, so it’s a slow climb back up. Images of the Twelve Apostles in Australia are coming back to me, this really is a tourist magnet one of the busiest places we’ve encountered in New Zealand and that includes Huka Falls.

By the afternoon we are back in Hahei, relaxing on the beach and having a swim in the cold, cold waters of the bay. This place really is beautiful, hazy small islands dot the bay, the waters clear and the little picturesque village of Hahei behind us. We spend two nights in Hahei, it’s a relaxing place and one not so far from Auckland, easily reachable, it would be cool to live here in one of the beach houses lining the bay…I think that wherever  I go, wondering what it would be like to stay. A holiday is not real life, I know but wow ….just think.

Travelling Notes

Check out the website Coastal Gems from the DOC

Where : Cathedral Cove, Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve Nr. Hahei, New Zealand

Travelling :The turning for Hahei is about halfway along the road between Tairua and Whiting the next big town. Hot water beach is a turning off to the left but Hahei is a twisty road on the way towards Cooks Beach. Let the locals overtake !

Camping : Hahei Holiday Resort  Hahei Beach

Next Up : At the End of the Road

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