Alden Boon

Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove): A Landscape of Fantasy


Alden, would you be sailing, kayaking or walking to Cathedral Cove?” my Haka Tour mate Rakesh asked. “Oh, I’m taking the water taxi,” said I with alacrity, sending my tour mates into a paroxysm of laughter. The water taxi promised a ten-minute ride from Hahei Beach —   after conquering Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the lazy me has earned the right to swear off all physical activities.

Waves of the turquoise sea lapping on a pristine white-sand shore. Sheer promontories studded with coalescing belts of trees that imbue a verdant beauty. Fans of The Chronicles of Narnia will immediately recognise the Coromandel’s Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, more commonly known as Cathedral Cove. The Māori pay much reverence to the Mercury Bay area: Hei, a tohunga from the Te Arawa, claimed it as his abode for his tribe. The most iconic feature here is the yawning archway connecting two beaches. Reminiscent of a cathedral, and inspiring its English name, it is shaped by sea and gale forces over a few thousand years.

Cathedral Cove
Roofed with trees, the limestone sea stack Te Hoho Rock used to connect to a sea cave, but now stands alone due to erosion.
The relaxing water taxi that goes two ways.

Children pile sand upon sand to build castles. Couples with enviable physiques in form-fitting swimwear amble along the coastline with Baywatch panache. Canoeists arrive at the beach, sun-kissed and brimming with hard-won pride. Merrymakers leap and perform belly flops off an isolated rock. Idlers seek refuge from the sun under the towering pohutukawa trees. All seem to forget their worldly problems, even if fleetingly.


Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.