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Walk the Beautiful Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove Trail NZ

Walk the Beautiful Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove Trail NZ

Hahei is a stunning coastal area on the Coromandel Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island. It is a short drive from the famous Hot Water Beach and a great day trip from Auckland.

Its sandy beach and beautiful coastal walk attract visitors to one of New Zealand’s must-see attractions, Cathedral Cove, a limestone arch separating two white-sand beaches.

I stayed for three nights on the Coromandel Peninsula and decided that this was one of the North Island’s must-do walks I had to complete.

Spoiler alert, I only made it halfway along the Cathedral Cove Trail as I hurt my foot! Regardless of my injury, I still thought the walk was sensational, and it gives me another reason to return to New Zealand one day!

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Hahei Beach

Enjoy the stunning views along the Hahei Trail

The 2.5km Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove Walk draws in both locals and tourists due to how pretty the scenery is along the trail.

I loved the native pohutukawa trees and pampas grasses that lined the route, offering glimpses of the shimmering Pacific and golden sandy beach.

Hahei is also a popular destination for swimming, diving, snorkelling and kayaking, and although I didn’t do one, there are kayak tours to Cathedral Cove starting on Hahei Beach – in hindsight, I really should have booked one of these tours!!

Where to park to start the Cathedral Cove Walk

Parking for the Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove Walk is the car park at the end of Hahei Beach Road. A short walk across the beach takes you to a track and the start of the trail. It is a moderate walk going uphill in places and takes around 90 minutes to complete, give or take, stopping time to admire the coastal views.

Parking for the official Cathedral Cove walk (omitting the Hahei Beach element) is at the Cathedral Cove car park on Grange Road. You will find toilets here.

Angie on the beach at Hahei

Viewpoints along the Hahei to Cathedral Cove Trail

The official Cathedral Cove walk starts at Grange Road and is marked with a fabulous lookout (although not of the cove despite the name); however, if you start here, you will miss out on the beautiful Hahei Beach.

Along the trail are fabulous views of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve.

At this point, you can continue for 45 minutes to Cathedral Cove or take a slight diversion to visit either Gemstone Bay (a great spot for snorkelling) or Stingray Bay (larger with big boulders) and spend some time on the beach.

Just remember, whatever goes down must come up, and the hills are steep.

Angie and Dom sitting on a rock in Hahei
view out to sea along the Hahei trail

When to Visit Cathedral Cove

The best time to visit Cathedral Cove is between low and high tide.

At high tide, it is impossible to walk into the cove, and at low tide, the water is way out, so if you are after one of those jaw-dropping pictures you may have seen on social media, you won’t get it.

Cathedral Cove Tide Times

Cathedral Cove

Alternative ways to reach Cathedral Cove from Hahei Beach

Cathedral Cove Water Taxi from Hahei Beach in 10 minutes.

Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours from Hahei Beach

Where to Stay in Hahei

If you like the look of Hahei (and let’s be serious, who wouldn’t), this seaside town has delightful accommodations, shops and restaurants to make it the perfect place to stay in the Coromandel Peninsula. It does get busy in the summer months, so booking accommodation in Hahei in advance is a must.

Luxury B and B – Hahei Sea Vista – the property is an 8-minute walk to Hahei Beach or a 2-minute drive to the top of the Cathedral Cove track. Five-star accommodation is shared with the owners in 2 guest double bedrooms.

Comfort – Hahei Bed and Breakfast – Located in central Hahei and with an outdoor swimming pool, the property is a 10-minute stroll to the beach.

Budget – Tatahi Cove – a four-star backpacker hostel with a shared kitchen and bathroom and 450 yards from the beach. Private rooms and dorms are available.

Angie’s final thoughts on Hahei

Hahei is like paradise, and for those living nearby, every day must bring a smile to the face. The turquoise waters, golden sand, beautiful land, and seascape make you want to stay forever. In fact, it is a destination that should be featured on every North Island itinerary.

Sadly I didn’t make it to Cathedral Cove (remember the foot incident), so on my next visit to New Zealand, I will return to Hahei and visit the cove in person, but I might take the water taxi next time!

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