East of Auckland and northwest of Hahei, the snorkeling in Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve is popular for its protective coves and plentiful stingrays. Also known as Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, this protected cove is accessible from shore parking and by boat. There is a main parking area located to the east of the coves and to the northwest of Hahei. From the parking area, the Cathedral Cove Trail runs along the coast up to each of the three main coves. The first cove is Gemstone Bay, which is a 10 minute hike from the carpark. The second cove is Stingray Bay, which is a 20 minute hike from the carpark. The third cove is Cathedral Cove, which is a 30 minute hike from the carpark.
The best snorkeling in Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve is Gemstone Bay where you’ll find the Gemstone Bay Snorkel Trail. There are several marker buoys anchored from 50m to 165m off the rocky shoreline. Each buoy has an information board hanging from it with details on the sights in the immediate area.
The next cove, Stingray Bay, is known for its namesake marine life. With plenty of stingrays to observe, this protected cove is good for families and beginners.
Lastly, the furtherest Cathedral Cove has a great beach for sunbathers, but does have some good snorkeling at either end near the rocks.
To reach Auckland by air, fly into Auckland Airport (AKL), which is located south of Auckland.
Overall, Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve is the 6th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 10 snorkeling dives in New Zealand.