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Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve (Maori name: Te Whanganui-A-Hei) encompasses a spectacular stretch of coastline on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, along with a number of nearby islands.  Wildlife and habitat within the reserve are protected, and vehicular traffic is not allowed, except for one parking lot.  There is a beautiful view from the car park (New Zealandish for parking lot), but one cannot fully appreciate the reserve without taking a walk. 

Mahurangi and Te Karaka Islands
Mahurangi and Te Karaka Islands
Motukorure Island
Motukorure Island
View from Cathedral Cove Trailhead
View from Cathedral Cove Trailhead (WMV Video, 9.1 MB)
Islands with Sign
Islands with Sign

The cove that gives the reserve its English name is a 45-minute, mostly downhill walk from the car park; the insightful reader will deduce that the return trip is mostly uphill, and longer in duration.  Along the way there are optional turnoffs to Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay, also parts of the reserve.  Not wanting to be caught by rain or darkness, we skipped these turnoffs and single-mindedly headed for Cathedral Cove itself.  The walk itself was scenic, with forested areas, grassy areas and sheep.

Nella on Trail
Nella on Trail
Sheep Along Trail
Sheep Along Trail

The last section of the trail was a long wooden staircase which dumped us out onto a section of beach called Mare’s Leg Cove, apparently named for an eroded rock feature which has since eroded itself out of existence.  Mare’s Leg Cove is scenic in its own right, and is surrounded on all sides by rock walls. 

Mare's Leg Cove from Trail
Mare's Leg Cove from Trail
Mare's Leg Cove
Mare's Leg Cove (WMV Video, 9.6 MB)
Bob and Nella
Bob and Nella
Connie
Connie

After a couple of minutes we noticed that the wall on the left was punctured by a large cave which led through a headland to the next cove over and our final destination, Cathedral Cove.

Connie and Cave to Cathedral Cove
Connie and Cave to Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove from Cave
Cathedral Cove from Cave

Cathedral Cove was named after the cave, which seems to have inspired religious imagery in some namer-of-places from the past.

Bob Makes a Discovery
Bob Makes a Discovery
Connie and Nella
Connie and Nella

Hollywood thought the cave other-worldly enough to use it as a gateway to Narnia in the Prince Caspian movie.  At the opposite end of the cove from the cave is a large rock called Te Hoho Rock, which protrudes vertically from the surf.

Te Hoho Rock
Te Hoho Rock
Cathedral Cove
On the Beach at Cathedral Cove

Small islands both within the reserve and beyond its boundaries are also visible, making for an outstanding panorama.

Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove (WMV Video, 11.3 MB)
Cave Back to Mare's Leg Cove
Cave Back to Mare's Leg Cove

After having our fill of the scenery, we returned (uphill) to the car park and drove southward along the east coast of the peninsula, eventually cutting back across it and returning to the Coastal Motor Lodge in Thames.

Back on the Trail
Back on the Trail
Back at Thames
Back at Thames

More Photos:

Poikeke and Motueka Islands
Poikeke and Motueka Islands
Stingray Bay and Cathedral Cove
Stingray Bay and Cathedral Cove

Nella and Bob at Viewpoint
Nella at Viewpoint
Ocean and Foliage
Ocean and Foliage
Sheep on Headland
Sheep on Headland
Nella Taking Picture
Nella Taking Picture, Mare's Leg Cove
Bob and Connie in Cave
Bob and Connie in Cave
Connie Defying Gravity
Connie Defying Gravity
Stairway Back Up
Stairway Back Up
Nearing the Top
Nearing the Top

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