New Zealand Coast: Cathedral Cove
On the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, about halfway up, is place called Mercury Bay. Before you get to Mercury Bay, you’ll pass Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, also known as Cathedral Cove. This is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, though in New Zealand, it’s pretty easy to say that about most places.
What makes this spot so unique to me is that I got to do a half a day of sea kayaking in and around several of the coves and islands in the marine reserve with Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours. The guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and made a mean cup of hot chocolate on the beach halfway through the trip, so what more could a girl ask for?
Before all the kayaking happened, though, I spent the night car camping (aka sleeping in my car) in the car park at the top of the hike leading down to Cathedral Cove. While technically only for self-contained units, there was a toilet on site, and we weren’t hassled by anyone for sleeping in the car. The point of spending my night in the car was to wake up around 4 a.m. so that I could hike down to Cathedral Cove in order to get some sunrise pictures, and boy was that early wake up worth it. (The hiking trail actually led to several beaches, with Hahei Beach to feature in a future post.)
It wasn’t only the beach itself that provided such photo fodder, but the hike back was equally picturesque with several fields on the cliff side of the hiking trail where you could tramp to various lookout points.
After the morning hike, I headed off to the three-hour kayak tour, where luckily, we didn’t get lost (Gilligan’s Island reference for those who don’t get it). As I mentioned, we kayak around several little islands, seeing birds, fish, stingrays, and hearing stories from our guide about the various coves and their Maori legends.
After kayaking out to sea, we headed to Cathedral Cove itself, where we pulled up onto the beach and had to time swim, snorkel, and check out the caves while our guide made coffee, tea, and hot chocolate on the beach for us.
After the break on the beach, we finished off our tour by seeing a few other coves along the coast. There was the option to continue on a longer tour for the afternoon session, but I chose to only do half the day of kayaking before enjoying an afternoon at a beach to feature in a future post (ooh, intrigue!).