7 Reasons why the Hahei Explorer is the best way to see Cathedral Cove

The Hahei Explorer is a scenic boat trip like no other and the best way to see the iconic Cathedral Cove . You’ll cruise through the Hahei Marine Reserve and travel 14km along the spectacular coastline.

Unique, insightful and unforgettable, this tour is not only perfect for snapping those Insta-worthy pics but also discovering the beauty of New Zealand from a different perspective. That is, from the water…

Cathedral Cove is situated on The Coromandel Peninsula on the north east coast of North Island. It’s around 175km from Auckland by road. Find out more about the “City of Sails” here. You can take a more direct route using a ferry, which departs from Auckland at 8.45am on a Saturday or Sunday only and takes around 2 hours, cruising across the Hauraki Gulf.

Here are 7 reasons why the Hahei Explorer trip should be on your bucket list:

1. The best way to see Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is at the south end of Mercury Bay, in the Te Whanganui-a-Hei  Marine Reserve (that’s the Moari name for Cathedral Cove). You can walk from the north end of Hahei beach, around an hour’s hike up to the cliff top, then down to the huge naturally formed arch with 2 beautiful secluded beaches either side. But there is another way…

If you think Cathedral Cove looks amazing from the land, the Hahei Explorer will give you a whole new view of this beauty! From the water, the cove is breath-taking! Plus, give your legs a break and save the hike.

2. Quick yet epic

In just one hour, you’ll see all the highlights of this magical volcanic coastline, from the beautiful turquoise water, amazing sea caves to the majestic marine life. You’ll see other landmarks, like Te Hoho, the enormous limestone stack standing just off the beach like a giant shark fin.

The relatively short tour means you’ll have more than enough time to kick-back and soak up the sun on the golden sandy beach – just perfect! It’s also a great place for snorkelling, with a chance to see a variety of marine life, reefs and sponge beds.

Hahei Explorer with excited passengers
Hands up if you want to go on the Hahei Explorer!

3. The best way to spot marine life

Get up close with beautiful marine life amongst the lush natural scenery. You’ll spot dolphins, seals and our favourite little blue penguins – super cute!

Cathedral Cove is sheltered from the strong southerly winds, so is the ideal place to learn more and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery and see the marine life that inhabits the coastline.

Hahei Explorer spots whales
Get up close and personal with Dolphins on your cruise

4. Discover a massive blowhole

Visit a magical blowhole as you sail through an underground sea cave – it’s 80ft high and truly spectacular!

The tour will give you the chance to sea many of the hidden caves and coves along this stretch of The Coromandel.

Magical Blowhole
Thar she blows! Travelling under a blow hole

5. Enjoy a comfortable ride

The Hahei Explorer has capacity for only 10 people. So, you won’t be stuck in a big crowd trying to peak over people to see the view. Sit back in comfort and enjoy the ride. There’s plenty of room, and the chance to look out over the boat and see some of the huge variety of fishes and marine life.

It’s safe too – these guys are experts on the water and know what they are doing.

Hahei Explorer Skilled Team
The boat that rocks! See the amazing rock formations of Cathedral Cove

6. Ride with the best

The friendly and skilled staff will make this insightful yet relaxed tour an unforgettable experience. It’s more like a trip with your mates than a guided tour.

Also their experience and local knowledge means that you won’t miss a thing. They know the best places to visit – and where to find the dolphins!

7. Discover a famous film location

You’ll spot a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean which was used for the discovery of Cair Paravel in the film, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – amazing huh?

You may well have your own Narnia moment on the trip. As the Unicorn said in CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, “This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.”

Cathedral Cove Top View
This is the land I have been looking for all my life

The Hahei Explorer runs every day at 10am from Hahei Beach, but booking in advance is essential. It’s a fantastic way to explore Cathedral Cove and the hidden caves around the Coromandel coastline, and definitely should be part of your Stray tour.

Stray female crew member avatar


She likes to explore New Zealand and to blog about it. No preference in North or South Island as both are equally beautiful, yet in a very different way. Follow Bhavisha's journey on our travel blog to get inspiration for your upcoming NZ trip.

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