Cathedral Cove track damage and slip
Image: DOC Whitianga | DOC


A Hahei resident has used social media to explain how they reached Cathedral Cove using a closed and damaged track.

Date:  13 September 2023

DOC staff in Coromandel are urging the local community to respect a rāhui and adhere to warnings after a Hahei resident used social media to explain how they reached Cathedral Cove using a closed and damaged track.

Nick Kelly, DOC’s Coromandel Operations Manager, says his team were alerted to a post in a local community Facebook group in which the person described using the damaged track at the site, before they leapt two metres from a rock face to reach the beach itself.

The person’s Facebook post explained the need to climb under or over a temporary fence DOC staff have installed to discourage visitors from using the track. The person went on to say accessing the beach is “not easy”, taking a rope would be helpful, and posted pictures of the damaged track.

DOC staff contacted administrators for the community Facebook group, who promptly removed the post.

Nick says having a member of local community actively explaining how to access the cove on foot, via closed a track, directly contradicts DOC’s clear and well-publicised advice, and disrespects a rāhui placed by Ngāti Hei.

“We understand people are frustrated and may not agree with the decision we’ve taken,” he says.

“But this Facebook post demonstrated behaviour we are actively discouraging. By visiting the cove on foot people put themselves at risk, and if they get into trouble it puts emergency services personnel at risk too.”

Nick says the rāhui in place at Cathedral Cove is also to ensure the safety of manuhiri (visitors), a sentiment Ngāti Hei has expressed on several occasions.

“We do not want people to get hurt, it’s really that simple,” Nick says.

“The health and safety risk is one of the main reasons we won’t be reinstating the track this summer. We want to come up with long-term resilient solutions in a coastal area which will continue to be impacted by climate change.”

Visitors will soon be able to access Cathedral Cove from the adjacent Te Whanganui-o-Hei Marine Reserve, either on private vessels or craft, or with a commercial operator. DOC staff are in the final stages of arranging signage and working with commercial operators on health and safety plans.

Anyone planning to visit the cove from the sea is urged to fully inform themselves of the risk before visiting, and check weather and sea conditions.

DOC has committed to keeping the community updated as it works on future options for the cove, before undertaking engagement activity. Residents and business owners can sign up to receive a digital newsletter by emailing

Background information

  • Cathedral Cove was significantly impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle in summer 2022-23.
  • In August, after obtaining independent advice in the form of a Landslide Risk Assessment, DOC announced it would not reinstate the tracks to the popular beach for summer 2023-24.
  • Landslides and rockfall are known and ongoing risks at the beach.


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