How I see Cathedral Cove
I have been following your coverage and recently watched your sit-down interview with the Minister of tourism, Matt Doocey – a great opportunity for our community and you to be able to speak directly with the minister.
I have to say, I am surprised to hear both the Minister of Tourism and the Coromandel MP, Scott Simpson’s ‘s urgency to open the walking track. Both have not spoken about the benefit to the local economy, having to access Cathedral Cove via tourism businesses. Indeed, if the track is reopened, more visitors will be able to access Cathedral Cove, but they will not need to pay for this. Instead, they will do what they have done in the past, which is bypass Hahei village by parking at the carpark at the entrance to Hahei and shuttling to the start of the walking track, and then spending hours down at the remote beach. All the while, they are not spending a dime in the local area.
Sure, they might have a snack or need some sunscreen, but that’s all. It isn’t hard to search google Cathedral Cove overcrowded’ to find some of the problems experienced in the past with the beach being simply overrun. I also remember the track and cove being closed due to rocks falling a few years ago.
The way I see it, albeit it frustrating to the average local, is that in the current situation, visitors need to base themselves in Hahei or wider Mercury Bay – spending money on accommodation and services – and then pay money to either kayak or boat to Cathedral Cove. Most, if not all, of the boats I have seen leaving from Whitianga wharf are full. When they return, their passengers are no doubt hungry, parched, spend more money at our fine local establishments and then return to their paid accommodation. This money is employing our good people and offers a unique experience for the visitor. The only piece of media I have seen touch on this was a video filmed by One News. Cathedral Cove closure gives boost to Coromandel water tour operators | 1News – YouTube.
Good to have the air time with the Minister but I believe he needs to step up to the plate – whether that be economic monitoring to see the current impacts on our community, especially in the marine businesses, or innovative tourism development. Let’s face it, there has been severe underinvestment on the Coromandel Peninsula and in Cathedral Cove for decades. It’s time to look carefully at what else Tourism New Zealand can promote in their budget to even out the load of travellers and lift up our other destinations. Reopening a state-owned free walkway is not the answer for our local economy and could have an unintended negative impact on our local businesses.
Of course, my letter is from my perspective- not backed by hard data which I think needs to be collected by someone, whether that’s TCDC, MBIE or the relevant business associations.
We need tourists that want to spend money and we need to create environments where it is expected to part with it. Also, it is very common across the world to pay to enter walks and state reserves – and this must go back to the community for upkeep of these assets.
We need our MP, Minister, business associations to dig their toes in for the long haul. I fear everyone is too short-sighted and distracted by one walking track.
How can we improve the marine experiences from Hahei (most are based in Whitianga). How can we diversify? For example, if there was a cycle trail in Hahei, that might bring a whole new group of domestic and international tourists and encourage people to stay an extra night so they can do the trail AND see Cathedral Cove. At the moment, it’s a one trick pony.