Kayaking to Cathedral Cove
*Epic movie voice over* You’ve seen it in the Chronicles of Narnia… You’ve seen it in Macklemore’s music video… You’ve seen it all over Instagram… Now… See the stunning Cathedral Cove from new perspectives as you approach the iconic white cliffs from the ocean… by sea kayak!
We cannot get enough of the ocean here in the Coromandel, or water for that matter! We have been canyoning, got caught in some ungodly rainstorms, had a leaking campervan roof, and joined the underwater world in their natural element by scuba diving. Today, we are going to kayak to the Coromandel Peninsula’s most popular landmark, Cathedral Cove.
Since Laura’s first trip in New Zealand, more than two years ago with the Kiwi Experience, she remembers sitting on Cathedral Cove beach, seeing the kayakers landing onshore with Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours and thinking: “Damn son, I wish that was me.” Well, wishes come true.
How to be late to your kayaking tour
Like any travel writer’s day, (or so we like to believe), we wake up at 5am and get on with some work, all the while, highly anticipating our afternoon sea kayaking session with Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours. And, like any other travel writer, (or so we like to believe again), we are so caught up in our work that, when we check the time, we only have 6 minutes to do a 9-minute drive in a slow-ass campervan. Ahhh!! Robin pushes the van to its limit, speeding out of turns, while Laura bitches and moans beside him. In that moment, we seem to transform into an old married couple…
As soon as we park up to the Hahei Beach, we seem to almost get our youth back as we run as gracefully as you can run on dry sand out to the kayaks lying on the beach. Thank God this is New Zealand, where everyone is expected to be late.
Some strange, strange reason
Haydn, our guide for today, introduces himself and gives us, a Chilean couple, and two friends from Canada a quick rundown of the kayaking equipment and how to steer these things. For some strange, strange, STRANGE reason, Robin insists on steering our kayak by sitting in the back seat. Laura is quick to agree with this decision, as for some strange, strange, STRANGE reason she knows she sucks at 99% of everything she does.
Haydn pushes us all off from shore. In no time, we are cruising across the Cathedral Cove marine reserve out to some offshore islands, one of which looks like giant disfigured nose. There’s HEAPS of Maori history surrounding this part of the North Island, which Haydn, with his eight years of guiding experience, shares his insights into. Even this nose-shaped island, Motueka Island, has a story behind it, where a Maori chief named the island “Te kuraetangao-taku-Ihu” (the outward curve of my nose).
Blasting through the ocean in our sea kayak
Sea kayaking is simple enough to get used to, (or at least that is what we thought. We probably looked like pathetic amateurs). When we looked straight ahead at the islands we were aiming for, it felt like we were going painfully slow. But a sideways glance at the kayak beside us and how we were matching their speed shows that, actually, we’re cruising pretty swiftly here! Laura would say: “Well done, us.” But every time she turns around, Robin has his paddle down and is playing with a camera…
Motueka Island towers above us as we approached it. Created by volcanic activity, the island is now dense with pohutukawa trees, surrounded by shags (seabirds). One seal is even spotted lying on the rocks. We kayak the perimeter and head to Cathedral Cove, stopping every 10 minutes for Haydn to tell us more about the incredible geographical history of this coastline, superbly demonstrated by the rock tunnel we kayak through.
Cathedral Cove landing
Cathedral Cove is straight ahead! Our next mission is to land on the beach without catching a wave, so we don’t land face first in the sand. Haydn gets us all on the beach super smoothly. Now we have half an hour to rampage Cathedral Cove with the rest of the tourists. Cathedral Cove is one of the busiest beaches we have seen in New Zealand on previous occasions, (maybe with the exception of Hot Water Beach at low tide in summer), but all we can say is: THANK GOD FOR SHOULDER SEASON! We cannot stress enough how much of a difference it makes coming here in winter instead of summer. The only f*cking tourist getting in the way of Laura’s photos was Robin.
Coffee on the beach
Hayden takes our coffee order, and we are expecting, you know, a Thermos full of hot chocolate and coffee, but, after we come back to base, Hayden has a purple picnic blanket out and his is making freakin’ barista-style coffee! Especially on a picnic blanket the colour of royalty, we feel pretty Goddamn posh right now. It is a really nice touch.
Back on the ocean, we kayak into a small sea cave with a mini beach of its own. Hayden’s stories of local Maori legends and the geological history echo off the cave walls.
Good job no one can see us in our van. Oh wait, they can.
From then on, the rest of the kayaking trip is cruisey back to Hahei Beach, having a casual conversation with Hayden about shark conservation and such like. Finally, we land back on Hahei Beach, quickly helping put the equipment away so we can get warmer faster.
It’s fair to say we are pretty pumped right now! The 9-minute drive back to Hot Water Beach is boomin’ as we played loud moronic dub step music. It is keeping us a bit warmer too. (The only downside to the shoulder season in New Zealand is the fact that it’s a little chilly).
We are spending our last night in Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park tonight, before we move onto Waihi tomorrow! Check back with us then!
Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
Kayaks assemble! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
Check out more epic water activities in New Zealand like this one in Top 8 Water Sports Activities to do in New Zealand. Of course, Cathedral Cove is your ultimate token tourist photo in the North Island. Check out the others in 10 Token Tourist Photos You Have to Take in the North Island. Finally, find out more awesome stuff to do in the Coromandel in Coromandel – Guide for Backpackers.
We’re going to say it: we’re pretty proud of the photos we got from this trip, so check them out with some insider travel tips on HerePin, and get liking on Instagram! Share your photos with us at #BackpackerGuideNZ to be featured.
So long for now!