19 Dec 2023

Walking tracks around Cathedral Cove open for summer

From Checkpoint, 5:14 pm on 19 December 2023
A slip blocking access to Cathedral Cove.

A slip blocking access to Cathedral Cove. Photo: RNZ/Matthew Theunissen

Visitors to the Coromandel Peninsula will be able to soak up postcard views of Cathedral Cove, through a series of new walking tracks in the area.

The Cathedral Cove walking track remains closed after it was damaged in Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Department of Conservation (DOC) spokesperson Tinaka Mearns told Checkpoint new tracks have been designed in partnership with mana whenua.

She said they reflect the cultural heritage of the area and pass by two historic pā sites, that were used by Ngāti Hei in pre-colonial times. 

"Hereheretaura and Te Pare pā were defensive pās for Ngāti Hei so really long history dating back pre-colonial times and they're really keen to welcome visitors to those sites to share some of the stories about what happened there and why those places are so important to them.

"So an awesome opportunity to really been enriched while out there walking about in the outdoors this summer."

A 90 minute loop track will also be added to McHands lookout, overlooking Mercury Bay. 

DOC worked with a private landowner for this path.

"We know the cove is a really special place so we're not going to say that any one of these is going to absolutely cover that experience but what these three different experiences will do is absolutely showcase the hallmark of the Coromandel views."

In one instance people will be able to drive up, turn around and drop people off, she said.

"And we've repurposed an area so visitors can see really sweeping views out across the whole marine reserve," she said.

"There is a significant amount of work ahead and that's why we've focused in some stages."

DOC was mindful of the role it plays in supporting the tourism around Coromandel, she said.

Mearns said there will be people stationed at areas that lead to Cathedral Cove itself to caution people to the types of risk that people will face if they choose to go down to the beach.

Last month there had been rockfall there, she said.

"It's really all about safety."