Walk to the Cathedral Cove and Beach in Coromandel

Walk to the Cathedral Cove and Beach in Coromandel

New Zealand
New Zealand

When Is the Best Time

Cathedral Cove and the Coromandel Peninsula are some of the most popular places in the north island of New Zealand, with more than 200 thousand visitors annually. During the summer, the Cathedral Cove Beach is pretty busy. Come here at sunrise to enjoy the rock arch with very few people. Spend the entire day at this beach and experience mother nature at its best during high and low tide. Why?

View to Cathedral Cove Beach from the arch at low tide
Cathedral Cove and beach at low tide.

You will love to be almost alone at the beach but don't miss out on the low tide. Watch the tides and the weather forecast first for the perfect experience for the rest of the year.

Cathedral Cove at sunrise
Sunrise at Cathedral Cove and Te Hoho Rock by Johannes

The best time to visit Cathedral Cove is low tide for perfect shots and an exceptional beach day. The beach behind the cave is accessible roughly two hours before and after low tide, and that's the best time to come here.

Cathedral Cove Arch and Beach at high tide.
High tide - Cathedral Cove is not accessible.

So start your walk from the car park or accommodation roughly an hour before low tide. That's the best time to walk through the dry cave rock arch. At high tide, you are not able to walk through it, and you miss out on the best part of this stunning beach. 

Mare Leg Cove and a visitor standing next to the rock
That's Markus at Mare Leg Cove and its Smiling Sphinx Rock

Don't miss the nearby Hot Water Beach two hours on either side of low tide! 
 

To plan your trip or explorer the Islands, we recommend the guidebook from Fodor’s. It is packed with maps, carefully curated recommendations and everything else you need to simplify your trip-planning process and make the most of your time onsite.

Weather and Crowds (Season Details)

Coromandel is a year-round destination because of the mild climate. The rainfall in the Coromandel Peninsula is occasionally significant, even in summer. The mountain range and the sea influence the weather. It is a crowded beach, especially in the summer, the peak season.

Spring (September-November)

A tour boat on the beach of Cathedral Cove
Tour boats bring visitors to Cathedral Cove

Shoulder Season! Precipitation decreases but is still relatively high in September, with an average daily temperature of 12°C and nights around 8°C, which is pretty chilly for camping. October improves with almost 14°C and above during the day. More people come to Cathedral Cove in November which is a pleasant month with lovely temperatures like in the summer.

Summer (December-February)

Cathedral Cove Arch during low tide

Peak Season! These are the driest and most pleasant months of the year, with an average temperature of 24°C and topping 30°C occasionally. The summer is also the most popular time to visit New Zealand. The sunset at Cathedral Cove is stunning, and only a few visitors come that early. Don’t worry about the tides in summer. If you like to enjoy this magical place, try to avoid the crowds and arrive early. Cathedral Cove is frequently overrun during the day.

View out of the rock arch way to lifeguards
Lifeguards patrol the beach at Mare's Leg Cove in summer.

I recommend spending the entire day here to experience the beaches and cove during high and low tide, which means almost alone and busy. From December to March, the parking fills up quickly. Because of the popularity, there is nowadays a second parking area where a shuttle transfer is offered. Bring plenty of water and a sandwich for your visit there aren't any facilities at the beach.

Autumn (March-May)

Cathedral Cove beach on an overcast day

Peak and shoulder season! March and early April are still busy, but after Easter, the crowds thin out, and May is relatively quiet, In autumn, the temperature decreases, but the sea is still lovely for swimming until late April/May. Increasing rainfall in May. 

Winter (June-August)

Cathedral Cove stretches into the sea

Low Season! If you come here during winter - the colder months from May to September, you may experience the beach and cove almost in solitude, but it's too cold for swimming. Most precipitation occurs in winter, with its peak in June, the coldest month. However, day temperatures are still pleasant ranging from 14°C-12°C and dropping to 8°C-6°C at night. This time of the year is quite chilly for camping.

Accommodations Hahei

View of Hahei from the Cathedral Cove walk
Hahei and the Hot Water Beach

Don't visit Cathedral Cove in a rush. Stay here at least one night. There is a huge variety of accommodations in Hahei. We spent two nights there, and even that was too short for Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach (we gave it a miss, unfortunately) and the Waiau Kauri Grove and Falls. 

  • We'd chosen an exceptional location for our stay in the Church Accommodation. We loved the dinner in the Church Bistro, which was initially a church made of wood in the 1900s.
  • If you like it hassle-free regarding parking and staying close to The Cove, check out my accommodation choice below (Where to Park).
  • Are you travelling on a budget? The Tatahi Backpackers is the best-located hostel ever. It is right on the pathway to the beach. You couldn't wish for better. The hostel has comfy beds, a clean kitchen, beautiful outdoor dining, and seating. Advanced booking is recommended; it's often fully booked. My nephew spent here a week and loved it. He provided some of the pictures.

My Recommended Tours

These are my recommended tours via GetYourGuide with 24 hours in the advance cancellation policy. Thx for booking via my website! With your support, I am able to provide all information first-hand. Tour prices are at no extra cost!

 

 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Coromandel Peninsula
New Zealand
New Zealand

Cathedral Cove is a two-hour drive east of Auckland located in the Coromandel Peninsula.

Why is this Beach Called Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove Beach and Te Hoho Rock at low tide with visitors
The beautiful Cathedral Cove Beach in summer.

The name Cathedral Cove originates from the natural rock arch formation, which was developed by erosions. One day the cave roof collapses, and an off-shore stack remains like the Mare Leg Cove and its Smiling Sphinx Rock.

How to Get to Cathedral Cove - Trail Description

View to the cliffs on the Cathedral Cove Walk

Cathedral Cove is accessible on foot, by boat (water taxi) or by kayak. It only takes 20 minutes to walk to the lookout and another 30 minutes to Cathedral Cove or Te Whanganui-A-Hei in Maori along dramatic cliffs and the three stunning bays and beaches. First, you pass by Gemstone Bay which is great for snorkelling, Stingray Bay and Beach, and Mare's Leg Cove.We loved this walk the beautiful scenery and went swimming of course. 

Stingray Bay and its crystal emerald green water

The first part of the walk is paved and easy to walk but gets steep and uneven when reaching different beaches and coves. Lots of steps lead to Cathedral Cove. The beach is separated by the famous rock arch, where you can walk through during low tide. Usually, at high tide, you can't walk through the colossal arch; the water level is too high. It's a breathtaking spot for swimming. Bring enough water and a picnic. There isn't any shop to buy beverages and food. 

3 Parking Possibilities (Car or Camper)

Cathedral Cove Beach and Rock Arch at low tide on a quieter day

Parking can be an issue in the peak season, therefore, a second car park was constructed.  There is a third option available which I recommend as it's the most convenient one:

  1. Cathedral Cove Lookout Car Park (Google Maps - Cathredal Cove Parking): This is the closest parking area. From here, it's a  30 - 40 minutes walk to The Cove. Gemstone Bay (10 minutes) or Stingray Bay (20 minutes) are even closer. PLEASE NOTE: As of 2018 this car park is CLOSED between October 1 and April 30! Due to the massive traffic in summer in Hahei village, they made this decision. The parking lot is still open in the low season from May until September. However, even during this time parking is limited to 4 hours for $15! Restrooms are available.
  2. Carpark at Hahei Village Entry (Google Maps - Carpark Hahei Village): This one is new built in 2018. Free parking is available year-round. It can be found at the entrance to Hahei village on the right-hand side. There is also a toilet. From here you can either walk to Cathedral Cove (1:20 hours) or use the shuttle bus which takes you there. Prices for the shuttle are $5 round-trip per person, $3 for each child, and $10 for the whole family.
  3. Stay at a Resort with free parking: This is the most comfortable choice because it's hassle-free. It gets even better: When you choose the right accommodation, it's a much shorter walk to The Cove. You can get there in the morning easily when it's still not crowded or enjoy the beautiful sunset and just walk back and relax. Our #1 choice is the Tatahi Lodge Beach Resort (compare prices here and bookmark the link): Another option is just a few meters from Tatahi Lodge on the same road: Tatahi Backpackers Hostel (check reservations here). This is the budget option but still excellent and also includes parking. It's the same walk to the Cove as from the Resort.

Places Nearby

Hahei and Beach close to the Cathedral Cove
Hahei and Beach

Don't miss the unique experience at Hot Water Beach, just 9 km south of Grange Road parking. Here's the kicker: You can dig your own hot pool two hours on either side of low tide. No worries, spades can be hired in the shop, and this is an experience you definitely must put on your bucket list.

Must-Know Facts & Tips

Cathedral Cove during summer - the peak season - at low tide

  • Parking at Cathedral Cove Lookout Car Park is closed throughout the summer from October until April! However, in winter, you can still park there for 4 hours for $15. Alternative: There is also a brand new parking area at the village entrance.
  • The beautiful coastal walk to Cathedral Cove from Lookout Car Park takes about 30 minutes. From Hahei Village, add another 20 - 60 minutes (depending on the location).
  • The easiest way is to make a reservation at a resort or hostel which are closer to The Cove and includes free parking (see above)
  • There isn't any shop at The Cove. Bring enough water and a snack or picnic.
  • Wear trainers for the walk.
  • Bring a towel and your swim clothes from spring to autumn. 
     

My nephew and I took the pictures. If you wish to use any contact me.

Comments

Johannes Ehrhardt

A nice place to see, especially very early starting from 5:30 before the sun rises. Lesser people and better atmosphere.

Rodrigo

Cathedral Beach is awesome in summer. So beautiful for swimming. Luckily, I spend a couple of days here. The first days low tide was too early because my dorm bed at the Holiday Park was a 10 km walk away. On my last day, I could get there on time finally. Check where you stay when traveling by bus. The mentioned backpacker hostel above is perfectly located but was already fully booked when I arrived.

Nearby Places
Walk to the Hidden New Chums Beach in Coromandel
22 km
Walk to the Hidden New Chums Beach in Coromandel
This secluded world-class beach, voted one of the top 20 in the world, is not…
Waiau Kauri Grove and Falls on Coromandel
22 km
Waiau Kauri Grove and Falls on Coromandel
The Kauri walk is an alternative if you are limited in time to see the north's…
Fairy Falls at Waitakere Ranges
112 km
Fairy Falls at Waitakere Ranges
First of all, if you like to hike to the falls, don't leave any valuables in…
Piha Beach and Karekare Beach and Falls North of Auckland
119 km
Piha Beach and Karekare Beach and Falls North of Auckland
Piha Beach is a popular surf beach on the rugged coastline close to Auckland.…
The Gannet Colony at Muriwai - 11 Facts
122 km
The Gannet Colony at Muriwai - 11 Facts
The gannets are common in New Zealand. Most of the gannets occur on the…
 Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotorua
175 km
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotorua
Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is an active geothermal park. Protected as a Scenic…
Lake Waikaremoana and an Ancient Rata Tree in Te Urewera
245 km
Lake Waikaremoana and an Ancient Rata Tree in Te Urewera
Lake Waikaremoana is part of the 1954 established Te Urewera National Park. The…
Tongariro Crossing Season Guide and Tips
257 km
Tongariro Crossing Season Guide and Tips
Tongariro is the oldest National Park in New Zealand, declared in 1887, and its…
Explore the Remote Wharariki Beach
490 km
Explore the Remote Wharariki Beach
The last kilometers to the Wharariki Beach car park are on a gravel road. Next…
Abel Tasman Coastal Track and Beaches
513 km
Abel Tasman Coastal Track and Beaches
The famous National Park was established in 1942. Abel Tasman is a hikers…
Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…