Cathedral Cove tracks to remain closed in summer after report finds extensive damage, risk of further instability

In sad news for visitors to the Coromandel, walking access to Te Whanganui a Hei/Cathedral Cove will remain closed throughout the upcoming summer after being damaged by rockfalls and landslips in the extreme weather events of early 2023.

DOC has released the findings of an independent report that stated the main track to the popular tourist destination remains "extensively damaged and at risk of further instability and no 'quick fixes' available for other tracks compromised tracks in the area".

The Cathedral Cove Walk remains closed "until further notice".

There is an "increased risk of injury or fatality at the location", DOC said, and is urging people to stay away from Te Whanganui a Hei/Cathedral Cove and nearby bays.

"The report details ongoing risk of landslides across the wider site," said DOC Hauraki-Waikato-Taranaki regional director Tinaka Mearns.

"Across the 3.8km of tracks around Cathedral Cove and the adjacent bays, 180 historical or recent landslides were identified. Beach cliffs, including those overlooking Cathedral Cove were described as 'particularly hazardous' due to ongoing landslides and rockfall."

Access to Te Whanganui a Hei/Cathedral Cove will be made possible by boat again "within the next few weeks", DOC said, but people who get there that way are still encouraged to be very careful. Passing through the cove's iconic arch or posing for photos under it is dangerous, with debris falling from above onto the sand below as recently as last weekend.

Ngāti Hei, the area's local iwi, will lift a rāhui placed over the area to protect visitor safety since the extreme weather events of January and February, including Cyclone Gabrielle.

"Renewing access to Cathedral Cove from the sea allows people to go there - but we want to make it very clear there is still risk associated with going to this site and people need to inform themselves properly before visiting," said Mearns.

"There is still potential for rockfall landslides at these sites, and we need to emphasise this to the public. You go at your own risk."

DOC said it will close the public toilets at Te Whanganui a Hei/Cathedral Cove beach and cautiously monitor visitor numbers.

"We need to make sensible long-term investments at this site, rather than spend money on short-term solutions which are not sustainable and will not withstand the increasing extreme weather events caused by climate change," said Mearns.

The landslide risk assessment report commissioned by DOC was completed by Tonkin + Taylor (T+T).