24 Jan 2024

No guarantee for Cathedral Cove walkway - DOC

From Checkpoint, 5:52 pm on 24 January 2024

The Department of Conservation has conceded there is no guarantee a walkway to Cathedral Cove will ever reopen but expects to know what may be possible by the middle of the year.

The walking track to the popular Coromandel tourist destination was closed in February 2023 after it was badly damaged in extreme weather, including Cyclone Gabrielle.

Over the next few months the Department of Conservation (DOC) will consult on options for a resilient safe track.

DOC regional director Tinaka Mearns told Checkpoint it was also waiting on a land stability report.

"The land is still moving, we're still getting rockfall, still seeing large cracks widening around the area.

"So, first real thing in front of us is to be able to find that alignment for a track and that's going to be on a stable piece of land to keep our visitors safe into the future."

Mearns said it was a challenge and DOC was trying to find a stable piece of land.

"We're not confident that we will find some, we're incredibly hopeful."

Regional Spotlight - Coromandel Cathedral Cove.

 Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel. Photo: Supplied

A report is expected in June, which will give DOC a better idea of the land and where a new track can be built.

"We've now delivered on some short-term alternatives to make sure that visitors still have a great time over the summer and businesses can continue to leverage off that."

DOC was also working with Treaty partners and the community to find a way forward.

"Through the Cyclone Recovery Fund, DOC was allocated some funding and we've put aside some of it for this knowing that Cathedral Cove is a really important location. So there is a pool of money I have access to draw on to.

"We have access to up to $1 million at this point in time. So it will really depend on what the solution looks like as to how much of that we may need."

It was not unusual for the arch to crumble every now and then, she said.

"Since the cyclones we have had about five different rock falls, all in different types of weather.

"So those are becoming a little bit less frequent at the moment, which is why we're leaning towards the next phase of our geotech's advice that will also tell us a lot more about what's happening with the arch, the longevity of that."

As of now, the best way to see and grab that photograph of the Cathedral Cove is via boat.

"One of the alternatives that I'd like to point out that we opened this summer is a track called McHands Track. That's about an hour return walk, and at the end of that, there's a viewing platform you can actually see down to Cathedral Cove from the top, so not as a close-up view, but also a really spectacular way to be able to see the cove and the whole coastline along there."