Important Notice: Walkway access is presently closed due to sever track damage. It is still possible to access Cathedral Cove by boat. Boat tours and kayak hires can be arranged in Hahei. See here for options.
Cathedral Cove on he Coromandel Peninsula IS the place, at least for many visitors to Aotearoa New Zealand. The main way in is a 40 minute walk from the top of steep Grange Road in Hahei (walk up or bus), or you can walk a track to the start from Hahei Beach for another 20 minutes. Along the way, there are short side trips to Stingray Bay and Gemstone Beaches.
Surrounded by white cliffs and lined with big Pohutukawa trees, Cathedral Cove is truly special. Its natural arch, cave, perfectly clear water, and waterfall put it at the top of many travellers’ to-do lists. In addition, swimming in the crystal clear waters of the beach is very safe.
Curiously, you actually arrive at Mares Leg Cove (according to the official Topo Maps) and you need to walk through the arch to get to Cathedral Cove.
The only downside? Everyone else thinks it’s cool to visit as well and the beaches are quite small. There are parking areas off the Lees Road access and in Hahei. Avoid New Zealand public holidays if you can!