Seakayaking at Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Photos from two half day tours I did in April 2012 of Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve with Cathedral Cove Kayak Tours.

This was the highlight of our two week trip around the north island. Great sea kayaking experience on the Coromandel coast with spectacular scenery and wildlife. Excellent introduction to kayaking for beginners with basic safety instruction before you start, and you are accompanied by an experienced guide who tells you about the geology, animal and plant life, and Maori cultural significance of areas you visit. You are in two person sea kayaks which are very stable, so can paddle in tandem or each person can rest occasionally. I chose to sit upfront and often stopped paddling to pull out my camera to take photos. (Warning: use a waterproof camera or a cheap compact as it can get a bit wet) The group you are with occasionally stops and joins up in a 'raft' while the guide highlights some feature or tells you a story.

Guides take you into sea caves and sea tunnels, some of which are inaccessible to larger motorised scenic tour boats. I did the popular Cathedral Cove classic tour which was pretty awesome, stopping at Cathedral cove where you can go for a swim or explore while the guide makes a pretty good coffee on a small stove. After cookies and coffee (or hot chocolate) it's back into the sea kayaks for a little more exploring and the paddle back to Hahei beach. On the day we went, we formed a raft on the trip back and the guide was able to unfurl a sail to help our journey back to the beach.

The experience was so good, two days later we signed up again and did the volcanic coast tour which explored sea caves, tunnels and blowholes towards Hot Water Beach. Nick was our guide on this tour as well and it was equally fantastic. Although we never got out of the sea kayaks on this trip we enjoyed some orange juice and cookies rafted together in a sea cave. As Nick new we were slighlty above beginner level he took us through some tight squeezes between rock pillars which gave us some extra challenge. The highlight was the blowhole cave, where you enter a tunnel and then come out in this circular dome of rock with light filtering through a circle of trees high above. Truly magical!

I have done beginner seakayaking in Melbourne and the Freycinet National Park in Tasmania, and this was different and a cut above both of those trips. My 11 year old daughter, who did her first seakayaking when she was 8 years old, managed fine and enjoyed herself on these trips. If you want to see some of the Coromandel coast up close this is the best and most fantastic way to do it.
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