Coromandel, New Zealand
When I first started looking up places to go in New Zealand, Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Peninsula region was one of the coolest-looking places to visit; however, with a two-hour round trip hike time, a remote location and a tight schedule, I was a little bit wary about making the stop. I eventually decided to do it (and I shaved down the time to about an hour and fifteen minutes), and I couldn't be happier that I did. I went early in the morning so it wasn't crowded, and it was mind-bogglingly beautiful: a massive cave open to both sides, and a white sand beach surrounded by white cliffs that made you feel like a castaway. It's definitely worth it; don't be dissuaded by the hike time. The path has its ups and downs, since it meanders along the cliffs, so you should be in passable physical condition. An added bonus? The first bit of the new Chronicles of Narnia movie was filmed in this location!
Gemstone Bay is en route to Cathedral Cove, a short detour down to a small beach, but don't expect any sand.
The Bay is simply large rocks and boulders, though many are quite pretty, fringed with pine and Pohutakawa trees. The emerald waters are exceptionally clear and are great for diving and snorkelling.
You may see cuttlefish, moki, kina and shoals of tiny silvery fish along with crustaceans. Cormorants are common and, further out, you might get to see the spectacular diving gannets (boobys) seeking their prey.
Me, I was content to splash some water over the dormant rocks and see what colours came to light.
It's a difficult place if you're not too steady on your feet as the rocks aren't all stable, so take care.
Try to get across to the Coromandel Peninsular, just South East of Auckland. In fact don't miss this place! View my location pages for more info and photos. This coastline is every yachtie's dream. So many small bays and islands to sail around.
Coromandel has an interesting history, from "greenies" to hoteliers, there is always an interesting viewing over there.
It is common to see foreign visitors, however you still have the feeling of being away from it all, and the bush and remoteness hides the population.
The good thing about this place is that it is not really so far from Auckland.