First and foremost beaches are associated with swimming and sunbathing. Quite a few of them are scenic or outstanding at a special time. Share your favorite beach which you already experienced.
Cathedral Cove and the Coromandel Peninsula are one of the most popular places on the north island of New Zealand. During the summer the most important thing is avoiding the crowds at Cathedral Cove. To enjoy the rock arch with very few people come here at sunrise. The rest of the year watch the tides and the weather forecast first for the perfect experience. You get the best shot between high and low tide. Low tide is nice as well, and it's dry inside the cave/rock arch. At high tide, you may not be able to walk through it: Tide Times Cathedral Cove Coromandel
Mare Leg Cove and its Smiling Sphinx Rock
Don't miss the nearby Hot Water Beach two hours either side of low tide! Read on for more information about Cathedral Cove and all its beautiful lagoons and beaches.
Weather and Crowds (Season Details)
Coromandel is a year-round destination with a mild climate. The rainfall on the Coromandel peninsula is sometimes significant even in summer. The weather is influenced by the mountain range and the sea.
Spring (September - October - November)
Shoulder Season! Precipitation decreases; but still quite high in September with an average daily temp of 12°C and nights are around 8°C which is pretty chilly for camping. October improves with almost 14°C and above at daytime. Cathedral Cove gets busier but still bearable. November is drier almost like the summer months. Temps are pleasant.
Summer (December - January - February)
Peak Season! These are the driest months of the year and the most popular time for visiting New Zealand. Come here either for the sunrise or the sunset. Don’t worry about the tides. If you like to enjoy this magic place, try to avoid the crowds. Cathedral Cove is often overrun during the day. From December to March the parking fills up soon. The reason that there is a second parking area with shuttle transfer offered. The mean daily temp is 24°C and above even up to 30°C during the summer.
Autumn (March - April - May)
Peak and shoulder season! In autumn the temperature is getting cooler, but weather can be excellent even for swimming until late April/May. It’s still drier in March and April; rain increases in May. March is still busy until Easter. In April the crowds thin out, and in May it becomes enjoyable.
Winter (June - July - August)
Low Season! If you come here during winter and the colder months from May to September, you may experience the beach and cove almost alone, but it's too cold for swimming. Most precipitation in winter with its peak in June. This is also the coldest month but still pleasant day temps. The winter temperature can be 12°C-14°C and drop to 6°C-8°C. This time of the year is pretty cold for camping.
Picture provided by Johannes Ehrhardt
How to avoid the crowds during peak season? Before sunset, most of the people already left the beach. It's less busy in the early morning and the evening.
Where to Stay
Don't visit Cathedral Cove in a rush. Stay here at least one night. There is a huge variety of accommodations in Hahei. We spent two nights there and even that was too short for Cathedral Cove, the Hot Water Beach (we gave it a miss, unfortunately) and the Waiau Kauri Grove and Falls. We'd chosen an exceptional location for our stay in the Church Accommodation. We loved the dinner in the Church Bistro which was initially a church made of wood in the 1900s. If you like it hassle-free regarding parking and stay in close proximity to The Cove, check out our accommodation choice below (Where to Park).
Car Rental & Campervan
Please do not make the mistake and rent a car or camper at Auckland airport without pre-booking. It's much more expensive if you rent on the spot. The best price comparisons for pre-bookings can be found at Rentalcars.com - Auckland Airport. You can book any big brand (Budget, Enterprise, Alamo, ezi, Hertz, Avis, ace, etc.) or even campervans from JUCY!
The New Chums Beach is still a hidden gem. There isn't any road to the beach or cafe just pure nature. It's better to come 2 hours after high tide and around low tide here. During high tide, you may either get wet feet when reaching the beach, the beach is pretty small or you are blocked when you want to leave. It depends on the level of the high tide, the wind, and the surf.
Coromandel is a year-round destination with a mild climate. The precipitation on the Coromandel peninsula is sometimes significant even in summer. The weather is influenced by the mountain range and the sea. The "driest" months are from January to April while the warmest months are December to March mostly between 20 to 25°C. April is a bit cooler but still pleasant. Most rainfall in winter with its peak in July; also the coldest month. The winter temps is around 10-12°C and drop to roughly 6°C. Frost is not common.
The famous and popular Figure 8 Pools are safely accessible around low tide only! The tides and swell must have a low level without strong wind to enjoy the amazing pools without an accident. Many people got injured by sudden waves just for a perfect selfie.
Update Feb 2019: Safety First! A young international student got washed off the rocks on Monday 25th. 9 people died in the Royal National Park along the coast since 2016. Don't come here during high tide. Check the National Park Alerts first and the wave status. Two young men got hit by an extreme wave and one drowned. Scroll down for the helpful links and check them out before you go!!!
Helpful Links (before you go)
To get to the Garrawarra Farm car park it’s a long drive through the park on sealed roads, only 1.5 km is gravel.
Space is limited, and you are not allowed to park the car somewhere else. The entrance fee is 12 $ per car if you don’t have a multi or annual park pass for NSW. The gate closes at 8.30 pm and opens at 7:00 am. The hike to Figure 8 takes a maximum of 1½ hours, and the trail is 3.5 km long one way. No worries the trail is well marked, and there is no need for a map.
The park is mostly super busy during the summer holidays (mid-December to January) and weekends as well. There is a lot of traffic, and the car parks fill up soon. Come early in the peak season; the car parks get closed when they are full. Traffic jams occur pretty often at this crazy time of the year.
The area around Sydney experiences hot summers with average daytime temps of almost 30°C and mild winters with an average daytime temp of about 20°C. There isn’t a wet or dry season, but droughts happen more often nowadays. On average rain occurs throughout the year with more precipitation from January to June with its peak in March.
- From May to November you may spot whales along the coast.
- The Visitor Center at Audley is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
From July to November more than 700 different plants are in bloom on the plateau.
The State Park is popular for the 2 miles long beach but not crowded due to a one-mile walk to get there. The gate is open from sunrise until half an hour after sunset.
The entire 2 miles beach is only accessible at low tide. Watch the tide and don’t get trapped between rocky outcrops.
The summer is the foggiest season. Clearer skies and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May.
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inch / 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.
The gray whales migrate from Alaska to Baja California and can be spotted during mid- December and February. And again on their northward migration with their new born calves from February to May.
The spectacular coastline, the beach, and hikes are worth for several stops year-round. The summer is the foggiest season. Clearer skies and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May. The beautiful scenery of Garrapata with very view visitors was a marvelous highlight for us in California.
Spring (special season):
An amazing time when colorful wildflower carpets cover most of the coastal area.
If visiting the beach, the best time is low tide. At high tide, parts may be inaccessible especially during strong surf. Tide times for Garrapata Beach
The Garrapata State Park is overlooked therefore less busy than other parks.
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches / 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
Where to Stay (bookmark the link)
Most people experience the Garrapata State Park by accident along the HWY 1 although it's worth to stay here for one or two days. It's one of the most beautiful parks along Highway 1. The benefit; this park is not crowded. The best-located hotel with spectacular views is the Resort Hyatt Carmel Highlands.
Popular small beach frequently with lifeguard during the day in summer. Less busy and even more beautiful in the evening at sunset and low tide. Tide pooling during the day is much fun for the younger ones at low tide. The Natural Bridges State Beach is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. The visitor center is open from 10 am until 4 pm. The State Beach vehicle fee is 10 $ a day.
There is limited parking in front of the State Beach allowed for 20 minutes only. Plenty of parking lots close to the visitor center, shoulder parking direction the entrance kiosk, and outside the State Beach. Anyhow, on weekends in summer it gets quite busy.
Walking through the bridge is possible at spring tide only a couple of times a year. It occurs in spring and fall when the full or new moon is closest to the earth. Tide times Natural Bridges
- On the second Sunday in October the monarch butterfly is welcomed from 11 am until 4 pm. It's an amazing festival for the whole family.
- The second Saturday in February is dedicated to the whale migration.
The park is a temporary home for thousands of Monarch Butterflies during the winter. They migrate from the cold Rockie Mountain Valleys. The mild climate and the eucalyptus trees provide a safe place for them. They feed on the nectar of the milkweed. The butterflies arrive around mid-October and stay until late January to mid- February. Guided Monarch Butterfly Tours are offered in fall and winter at 11 am and 2 pm.
During spring wildflowers are in bloom.
Weather and Water Temperature
During the summer from June to August, it's dry, and drought occurs. The average day temp is 17°C / 62°F, but 30°C / 86°F can happen as well. Water temp in summer around 16°C / 61°F only. Most precipitation in winter from December to February with its peak in February. Average day temps are around 10°C / 50°F.
Natural Bridges Park Map and Brochure including wheelchair accessibility