cathedral cove from cave

Coromandel, Hahei and Cathedral Cove

Thursday, April 5-Monday, April 9, 2018

We tend to look to far away destinations for places of great beauty, and we forget that we have some of the most spectacular locations close at hand. Such as New Zealand. The romance of Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma against a backdrop of the Southern Alps lingers in our psyche. The Southern Alps are not renowned for swimming, however.

On the North Island, for the first time, we’re heading to the Coromandel Peninsula, a virtual wilderness region a couple of hours to the east of Auckland, and playground of recreating Aucklandians. The coastline in this part of the world is marked by towering cliffs topped by extravagant homes stuck to their peaks as if by paperclips. It struck us, swimming along there on our reccie trip earlier in 2017, that we could have been on Catalonia’s Costa Brava.

It’s a dramatic place.

Not many people in that part of the world: no dual carriageways, or expressways cutting through mountains. It’s all single lane roads with the occasional overtaking lane winding wistfully through the hills, the verdant meadows, and between the cows, sheep and vineyards towards a coastline that’s hardly seen a human footprint.

hahei cathedral cove aerial

Cathedral Cove, as an eagle would see it.

And here we come in 2018 on our first inaugural Coromandel oceanswimsafari based for a long weekend in one of the prettiest towns in one of the world’s prettiest regions, Hahei, venue of the Cathedral Cove swim.

Hahei is a small, holiday town, a favourite weekender of Aucklandians. Out of holiday time, it’s very quiet, a natural retreat in a stunningly beautiful setting. Bounded by vertiginous hills to the north and more hills to the south, Hahei sits in a basin with a long beach fronting the sea. Offshore, a ring of islands create a peaceful bay.

The oceanswimsafari

Our oceanswimsafari is virtually an extended long weekend straight after Easter, Thursday through Monday. We meet at Auckland Airport on Thursday afternoon for our coach transfer to Hahei in time for dinner at one of Hahei's two restaurants.

We’ll swim early on Friday morning along Hahei beach, perhaps around the point towards Stingray Bay, where the spotted eagle rays seek haven from the orcas. The swim will give us a feel for the water and the locale, and you’ll see why we call it “the Costa Brava of the South Pacific”. Cathedral Cove is just another point north of here.

Later in the day, we’ll head north to the regional centre of Whitianga (pr. “Fitianga”), from where we’ll embark on an afternoon tour in a fast, glass bottom boat of the islands and the coastline from the other direction back towards Cathedral Cove. We’ll have a closer look at the cove – a beach broken in two by a bluff, through the base of which a cave connects the two ends of the beach – then head out to the islands or along the coast for swimming, exploring sea caves, and generally just water-mooching. (Keep your eye out for seals.)

hahei tennis ball tree 350New Zealand and the Coromandel are an exotic place. They even have trees that grow tennis balls. We always wondered where they came from.

Saturday morning is the Cathedral Cove Swim, either 4km ‘round trip from Hahei to the cove and return, or 2km from the cove back to Hahei. The swim, run by Kiwi swimming and triathlon legend, Brent Foster, is the centerpiece of the weekend. The Cathedral Cove Swim is one of the prettiest swims you will ever do.

Sunday, we’ll enjoy a sea kayak tour of the islands and the coastline from Hahei to Cathedral Cove. You’ll be out in the middle of nowhere, (but watch how your kayak guide can conjure an espresso on the beach).

If time and tide permit, we’ll also visit Hot Water Beach, named for the thermal springs that bubble up through the sand at low tide. Motels in Hahei and Hot Water Beach issue sand shovels to their guests in preparation for their visit to the beach. The idea is that, when you visit the hot water springs, you dig a hole in the sand and loll there in the springs, as if in a bath. Some of it is too hot to immerse yourself for very long, and you long for the broken waves of the incoming tide to break down your walls and temper the springs with the refreshing cool of the South Pacific. There might be scores of people around you of like mind. Out in the middle of nowhere.

We’ll have another swim Monday morning, before joining our coach transfer back to Auckland Airport.

Package details

There’s plenty of down time included in the program so there’s ample opportunity to catch up on that book that’s been by your bed since Xmas. We’ll be close to the beach, so you’ll have plenty of time, too, to leave your footprints in the sand at your leisure. Get to know your other half again, perhaps. Or yourself.

Package from Thursday, April 5 through Monday, April 9

  • 4 nights accommodation (range of options – ask us!)
  • Entry to Cathedral Cove Swim
  • Glass-bottom boat excursion with offshore swimming
  • Kayak swim safari of offshore islands and the bay
  • Hot Water Beach excursion
  • Programmed transfers
  • Airport transfers from and to Auckland Airport

Package cost from $A1,560 pp Quad share, $A1,520 pp twin/double share or $A1,965 single

NB: Package prices are under continuing review in view of exchange rate movements and variations by suppliers.

Note that this a land package from and returning to Auckland Airport. It does not include meals. One of the accommodation venues does offer breakfast by arrangement.

hahei from south
Hahei from the sarf.

Accommodation options

Room options include studios for 1 or 2, villas with 1 or 2 bedrooms, up to a beach villa sleeping 4. Bring your friends and share a 2 bedroom villa (and cut your per head cost)!

Ask us for options. There are other accommodation options apart from those costed here, so if you get in quick, you may be able to take advantage of them.

We can also arrange other dates to suit your group, if you'd like to travel at a different time of the year.

Note that oceanswimsafaris.com/oceanswims.com are tour operators and we handle all your land arrangements. We do not book airfares for you. We are happy to advise on flights, however. The key is that you need to be at Auckland Airport to connect with the afternoon transfer to the Coromandel Peninsula.

cathedral cove kayak tour

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hahei hot water beach
Hot Water Beach

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