A 'must do' activity while in the Hahei area is walk to Cathedral Cove. You can only get there on foot (or by boat) and it's not a bad walk - fairly steep in places but the paths are good and not too muddy (even in winter when there had been some heavy rain the day before). It's about an hour each way on average.
The cove is lovely, very scenic and my advice is to get there early. We'd all woken up early that morning for a change (a rare occurrence in our family!) and we were at the car park by about 9am which turned out to be a good thing as by the time we returned, coach-loads of tourists were pulling up in the car park but we had the cove all to ourselves for a while which was great.
A scene from one of the Narnia movies was shot here (an early scene in Prince Caspian where the children have just arrived back in Narnia), so that was interesting for us as we're all fans of the books and the films.
We stayed for about half an hour or so but you could take a picnic and spend the whole day there. There are toilets but no other amenities.
Sadly the archway itself was roped off (danger of falling rocks or something) but some people who arrived did walk through it and go on to the other beach, but we didn't (didn't want to be a bad influence on our children LOL).
It was a lovely morning walk.
The two-hour walk from Hahei to Cathedral Cove and back is well worth doing if you have the time and energy. Weather and time have done some interesting things with the limestone along the coast, and there are unobscured views of the Pacific and offshore islands.
Colenso Country Café & Shop
Main Rd, Whenuakite, North Island New Zealand Those bound for Hot Water, Cooks and Hahei beaches should time their journeys to arrive here with a few hunger pangs. It just appears out of no where on the left side of the road as you are heading north. It is about 5Klm before the Cooks Beach turn off.
The cafe is run by an Austrian woman who is also a vegan so the food is fantastic and she has something for everyone. The fare is simple and reasonable, very reminiscent of good European country food. If you pass the place on the road, turn around and go back. it is a treat not to be missed.
We found it because of the 20-30 local cars parked out front. How odd for something that is 20 klm from anything. Just goes to show good food attracts a crowd even from a distance.
Favorite Dish: Great Coffee, fantastic everything else!
If you have some time, do the walk down the cliffs to Cathedral Cove, you do find a lovely beach and there is a cathedral cave down there.
***2011 - There have been some rock falls and there are now some restrictions at Cathedral Cove, so access is limited ***
Fondest memory: Around Christmas the lovely sprawling and very old Pohutukawa trees, clinging to the cliffs, make the scene so beautiful with their bright red flowers. One visit, they were dropping the flowers which are spikey almost like pine leaves, and they made the cliffs seem like they had been painted red. Very lovely!
On the walk down to Cathedral Cove, you can stop and view some of the many small coastal Islands, seen here in the photo.
It is also a yachties dream, as well as small boats, and divers.
This area is very popular with snorkellers and divers and most recreational water activities. Some of the coastal areas are protected and fishing is not allowed. Where fishing is allowed it is very good. Especially if you can catch some fish called Schnapper, it's very very tasty!