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Cooks, Hot water and Hahei Beaches

Auckland Anniversary weekend, so Monday is a holiday and an excuse to get away. Thursday we travelled from Auckland to the Eastern Coromandel. Cooks Beach is just south of Whitianga, the largest town on the peninsular, but are separated from each other by an estuary, making it a fair drive between the two. Best way of getting to Whitianga from Cooks Beach is to use the passenger ferry, $4 return. Cooks beach, Hot water and Hahei are within Mercury Bay.

Ex Cyclone Wilma added a little extra to the weekend, with Friday getting slowly darker and wetter, overnight we had the winds and 300mm of rain, this tapered out Sat. morning with the afternoon back on the beach. All that rain had left Whitianga, Cooks beach and the surroundings a virtual island with all roads in blocked by slips and flooding. Sunday, the roads were clear, so we could get to Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove lookout, and as you can see a beautiful day.

Mercury Bay (for Info)

Mercury Bay is a large V-shaped bay on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand. This bay was named by the English navigator Captain James Cook during his exploratory expeditions. By the Māori it was named Te-Whanganui-o-Hei, the great bay of Hei.

On November 9, 1769, Cook landed on the shores of this bay to observe a Transit of Mercury. In 1919, an area of land around Shakespeare Cliff was set aside, and a small memorial was constructed, based on the erroneous notion that it was the location of Cook's observations. But the actual site of Cook's landing and observation was the eastern end of Cook's Beach, near the Purangi estuary. A smaller memorial plinth was established there also.

The mouth of Mercury Bay is ten kilometers across, and its coastline extends some 20 km. On the shore of this bay is the resort town of Whitianga, and a natural harbor is formed by an arm of the bay which extends inland a further six kilometers southward. Several small islets are located at the southern and northern extremities of the bay, and the Mercury Islands are 10 km to the north.

Named locations along Mercury Bay include Buffalo Beach, Ferry Landing, Shakespeare Cliff, Lonely Bay, Flaxmill Bay, Cooks Beach, Purangi Estuary, Cathedral Cove, Hahei, and Hot Water Beach.

Mercury Bay is a good location for game fishing, with fish such as the marlin living there. This is partly due to the nearby presence of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) marine reserve: fish may not be caught there, but the plentiful fish in this marine reserve leads to fish straying outside the reserve and good catches outside of it.

Cooks Beach

Cooks Beach was named after James Cook (that's a surprise then). In the photo, cooks beach is the main one and Lonely beach the smaller. the best way to get to Lonely beach is by Kayak or boat.

Cooks Beach and Lonely Beach

These photos were taken from Shakespeare point, it gives a superb view over Whitianga as well.

Hot Water Beach

If sitting in warm/hot water on the beach is your thing arrive an hour ot two before low tide to stake your claim. The area around the spring can get crowded, but there is always space along the beach for swimming or surfing.

Spot the springs, also some real waves

Hot Water Springs
Real waves

What causes the springs?

Some volcanos develop huge underground reservoirs of superheated water. Over time, this water will escape to the surface — cooling on the way. There are two fissures at Hot Water Beach issuing water as hot as 64ºC (147ºF) at a rate as high as 15 litres/minute. This water contains large amounts of salt (NOT salt water), calcium, magnesium, potassium, fluorine, bromine and silica. There are other hot water springs nearby but the location of these two springs on the beach make them unique.

Hahei and Cathedral Cove

These photos were taken from the lookout, access to the cove was blocked by a landslip, care of Wilma.

Hahei & Cathedral Cove Information

This section of the Coast is a popular area, accessible from the Stone Steps Wharf at Ferry Landing and from the highway. The offshore islands provide protection for the beaches around Hahei. The waters offshore and the islands have been incorporated as a marine park and offer some excellent diving. Hahei's attractive beach is named after the Maori chief Hei. From the lookout there is access to majestic Cathedral Cove and the marine reserve.The Te Pare point historic reserve at the southern end of Hahei Beach is the site of a pa occupied by the Ngati Hei people.

Accessible only on foot or by boat, famous Cathedral Cove is one of the “must visit” sites on the Coromandel Peninsula. The track begins at the northern end of Hahei.

Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, Te Whanganui-A-Hei, covers 9 square kilometres and is New Zealand's sixth marine reserve. It is administered by the DOC. This site was chosen for a marine reserve because of the rich and varied habitats associated with the coastline and outlying islands. Reefs of hard rock, soft sediments, intricate caves and underwater arches provide homes for complex communities of plants, crustacea, moluscs and fish. Sheltered from the worst of the southerly winds Te Whanganui-A-Hei gives visitors and unparalleled opportunity to learn from and enjoy an unspoilt marine environment.

Cathedral Cove lookout
Cathedral Cove

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Map of Cooks Beach and Whitianga

tonka_trips/cooks_beach.txt · Last modified: 2011/02/14 09:25 by tel
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