The walk to Cathedral Cove Beach is full of stunning bays, jungle trails, and ocean views. From the small beachside town of Hahei, New Zealand, follow the long path to one of the most unique beaches in New Zealand. We share all our tips and things to know about this stunning walk along the cliffs of Coromandel on the world-famous Cathedral Cove walkway!
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Getting to the Cathedral Cove Walk
Hahei New Zealand is the jumping off point to the Cathedral Cove walk, and located on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. This area of the North Island is known for having some of the most gorgeous beaches in the entire country.
As it’s only a 2.5 hour drive from Auckland, it has become a popular day trip for locals and tourists alike. We stayed in nearby Tairua so it was only about a one hour drive away. Other great places to stay in to visit Cathedral Cove are Coromandel Town, Whitianga, Hot Water Beach, and Cooks Beach.
→ New Zealand North Island Itinerary: 4 Awesome One Week Routes
Arriving in Hahei New Zealand
After getting to Hahei, New Zealand, you’ll have to find parking before you can start the walk to Cathedral Cove. Unfortunately, depending on the time of year, this is sometimes easier said than done!
We made the mistake of getting to the Cathedral Cove Walkway in early afternoon on the day we went. Even though it was July in the middle of winter, we were still unable to find a spot in the main parking lot. Below are the three options to park before you start the walk to Cathedral Cove Beach!
Cathedral Cove Parking
Cathedral Cove Main Parking Lot: (Location) – The upper Cathedral Cove lot is very small and closed in the summer from the October 1st to 30th April for only drop offs. If you’re lucky enough to grab a spot in winter make sure to pay the parking meter.
Park and Ride: (Location) – If you’re not up for the extra 30 minute walk you can also pay to park at the large lot when you enter town. After parking at the free Hahei Visitor Carpark you’ll just have to pay $5 NZD per person to be shuttled up the hill. Note that the Park and Ride only runs in the summer months starting in October.
Hahei New Zealand Free Parking: (Location) – This is where we parked down by the Hahei New Zealand main beach. It added a little extra time to our day, but we didn’t mind starting our walk to Cathedral Cove from here.
Cathedral Cove Walkway
Wherever you end up starting from, the walk to Cathedral Cove is sure to make for an amazing day! The path is completely paved, but be ready for plenty of ups and downs on this hilly walk.
Also, remember you will have to come back the same way you came in and it’s around an hour and fifteen minutes oneway if you start at the beach. Make sure to bring plenty of water and maybe even some lunch for when you get to Cathedral Cove Beach.
On your way to this iconic beach you’ll pass two other spectacular bays that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Both Gemstone and Stingray Bay are small detours from the main trail, and more than worth the few minutes hike down.
Too cold to jump in the water? Don’t Worry! You’ll still have so many incredible views along the way!
What You’ll See on the Cathedral Cove Walk
First stop on the Cathedral Cove walk is the beautiful Gemstone Bay. It will take just 5 minutes to walk down from the track to this small, but inviting cove.
Check out the informational signs that describe the nature and history of the area. You’ll also notice this is the start to the Cathedral Cove snorkeling trail so make sure to pack your goggles and jump in! You can get more packing inspiration with our Amazon packing lists.
Just 10-15 minutes further you’ll come out to a viewpoint. This is where you’ll get your first glimpse of Stringray Bay! We couldn’t believe how bright and blue the ocean looked with the white cliffs towering above. It honestly didn’t feel like we were in New Zealand because it was so different from anything else we had seen!
After admiring the view we wasted no time getting down to the water at Stingray Bay. Although it was a little too chilly to swim in winter, we had fun jumping from rock to rock around the crystal clear ocean. This is definitely a detour from the Cathedral Cove Walkway that you won’t want to miss!
Last Section of the Walk to Cathedral Cove
The end of the walk to Cathedral Cove Beach is completely different from the rest. From Stingray Bay it opens up to a large field, and the path snakes its way into a dense forest.
For the next 15 minutes you’ll be walking through the tall trees on your way down to Cathedral Cove Beach. The trail gets a little steep once you make your final decent however, compared to the rest of the hikes/ walking trails in New Zealand this was very moderate and good for all ages.
Arriving at Cathedral Cove Beach
As you descend the final staircase of the forest trail you’ll catch your first peak of the waves rolling into Cathedral Cove. Directly on your left at the bottom of the stairs will be the Cathedral Cove Beach Cave.
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you’ll know it’s well documented that these movies were filmed in New Zealand! However, this particular cave was used in an epic scene in the Chronicles of Narnia.
Walk through the cave to the other side, and take in the one of a kind rock formations of Cathedral Cove Coromandel. We were completely blown away by the scenery here, and this cave was so unique to anything we saw in New Zealand.
Once we explored the cove, we settled in on the main part of the beach to relax on the smooth white sands. This was the perfect spot for us to eat our lunch before the hour walk back!
Where To Stay Near Cathedral Cove
Fun Vacation – Tatahi Lodge Beach Resort – Hahei – This Coromandel getaway is just steps away from the beach! Enjoy walking around the 1.5 acres of tropical gardens, and the lodge style apartment accommodations.
Beach Cabins – Hahei Beach Resort– Hahei – Simple cabins with an amazing location looking directly over Hahei beach. Perfect location to use as a base to explore the area or simply relax and take on the Cathedral Cove walkway.
Campers & Cabins: Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park – Hot Water Beach – We rented a cabin at the Hot Water Beach which was great! Part of the collection of Top 10 parks featured all around New Zealand. The rooms are very basic and small but you can use all the holiday park facilities and walk to the beach in 5 minutes.
Whole House – Hot Water Beach Bure Wera – Hot Water Beach – Private one bedroom house just a 100 meter stroll from the hot springs! You literally won’t be able to find anywhere closer to stay.
For more places to stay near Cathedral Cove Beach you can explore the latest prices here!
Have any questions about the Cathedral Cove Walkway or want to share your own experiences here? Leave us a comment!
Brigitte & Jake
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