This magnificent marine reserve is located on the North Island's Coromandel Peninsula.
Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, or Te Whanganui-a-Hei, as it is known in Maori, runs from the northern end of Hahei Beach to Cook Bluff Scenic Reserve.
Gemstone Bay, on the way to Cathedral Cove, is the site of an excellent snorkelling trail. Snorkellers can swim to a series of marker buoys that carry information about the species you can expect to encounter. For example, at buoy three snorkellers can hope to see marblefish, butterfish and red moki hiding in a seaweed city. The position of each buoy coincides with different habitats within the bay.
Scuba divers enjoy the reserve for its wonderful sponge gardens and reef systems. Crayfish and black angel fish hide in the cracks and crevices of reefs around Mahurangi Island. In the large boulder fields near Motueka Island, curious schools of sweep may follow divers.
Delicate corals, usually found at depth, are close to the surface in Poikeke Island cave. Closer to shore, brittle starfish might be found on rocky platforms and red moki graze amid forests of seaweed. Predators, like the leather-jacket, pick their food from a range of smaller animals.