Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve
Image: Chris Twemlow | DOC



The reserve protects a wide range of habitats from sandy flats to rocky reefs, offering great snorkelling and diving. Visitors to the reserve can also enjoy swimming, kayaking and viewing the interesting coastal geology.

For boundaries, tide and other information download the MarineMate app.

Find things to do and places to stay Te Whanganui-o-Hei/Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve

Boaties are allowed to explore the marine reserve as long as they follow the rules:

  • no fishing or taking of any kind
  • no feeding the fish or discharging anything into the water.

Do not exceed five knots within 200 m of the shore or a dive flag, or within 50 m of any other boat or person in the water.

Extra caution may be needed in some areas, especially in summer due to the number of divers and swimmers.

The closest boat ramps to the marine reserve are Cooks Beach and Whitianga Boat ramp. 

Read about how to keep safe while boating.

The marine reserve provides a unique opportunity to see what our coastal marine environment looks like without the pressures of fishing.

Snorkelling and scuba diving allows you to experience the diverse habitats and marine life that the reserve has to offer.

At Gemstone Bay there is a snorkel trail with marker buoys that have information panels on species and habitats. These are moored from 50 m to 150 m offshore.

Visitors to the area should swim or dive in pairs. Snorkelers should wear a wetsuit and life jacket (or use another flotation device such as a boogie board) when snorkelling in the marine reserve. This is particularly important for visitors who are not strong swimmers or used to swimming in the open sea.

Read about how to keep safe while snorkelling and diving at Water Safety New Zealand's Underwater safety webpage.

Kayaking is great way to explore the reserve if you don’t want to get in the water. Kayaks can be hired at Hahei.

Kayak from Hahei beach north along the coast to see Gemstone Bay, Stingray Bay and Cathedral Cove. There are plenty of interesting features such as caves and archways along the coastline to explore.

If you are a confident kayaker, you can kayak around the various islands in the marine reserve which are around 800 m–1 km offshore.

Inexperienced paddlers should take care with the sea conditions and currents.

Read more about how to keep safe while kayaking.

Hahei and Cathedral Cove beaches are excellent for swimming.

Protect our marine reserves
  • No fishing of any kind.
  • Don't take or kill marine life.
  • Don't remove or disturb any marine life or materials.
  • Don't feed fish - it disturbs their natural behaviour.
  • Take care when anchoring to avoid damaging the sea floor.


Kauaeranga Visitor Centre
Phone +64 7 867 9080
Email kauaerangavc@doc.govt.nz
Address 995C Kauaeranga Valley Road
Thames 3577
Hours Visitor centre hours and services
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