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The rugged northeast coast of The Coromandel is home to some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking and iconic views. Cathedral Cove draws visitors from across the globe, Shakespeare’s Cliff has inspired sailors for hundreds of years and the majestic bluffs of Mercury Bay provided a striking backdrop for the Chronicles of Narnia film Prince Caspian.
But these iconic vistas are only part of the story: the coast also hides a wealth of secluded sea caves, dramatic cliffs, powerful blowholes and quiet little coves that are only accessible from the water.
After visiting this area several times on land, I recently had the opportunity to take in another angle onboard Cathedral Cove Scenic Cruises. The change in perspective is incredible: instead of looking at gorgeous views from a distance on land, the cruise takes you right into the scenery itself.
Exploring secluded sea caves
Our skipper and guide, Darryl, took us from large-scale vistas such as Cathedral Cove to small unnamed caves and coves. Up close, you can see light filter through an opening in the top of a small cave and hear the water rush out of a blowhole after a wave crashes through it. The boat was originally used by the Coast Guard in Auckland, so it’s as safe as they come and a comfortable ride.
Snorkeling with the fish -- or watching them from on deck
When the weather’s warm, you can jump right in! The coastline includes the beautiful Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, a highly-regarded snorkeling destination with abundant sea life and often-clear water. Not up for a swim? An underwater camera lowered from the side of the boat allows you to view the sea life on a monitor while you stay dry on deck.
Capturing unique photos
Experiencing the coastline from the water puts everything in a different scale and allows you to photograph iconic landscapes from a rarely-seen angle. Plus: the water, the waves and the light interact with one-of-a-kind rock formations to create incredible photo opportunities from anywhere on the boat.
Cathedral Cove Scenic Cruises operates year-round, offering quick tours as well as more leisurely ones. I visited on a winter afternoon and loved it. If you’re a morning person, head over to the wharf for an early tour. The morning sun reflecting inside the Orua sea cave, Darryl said, is pure magic.
Learn more and book your tour at www.thecoromandel.com.
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