Cooks Beach & surrounding area
Cook Beach is a 3km crescent of fine golden sand with safe waters flanked by Shakespeare Cliff to the west and the picnic spot of the Purangi River to the east, with views across Mercury Bay to the Mercury Islands. The beach front rolls gently into the ocean and is known to be safe and free of any rips or potential hazards, making it an ideal place for family seaside activities.
Within a few minutes drive are a choice of other beaches including Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. At the eastern end of the beach is the sheltered and picturesque Purangi Estuary with several kilometres of inland waterways, providing a safe anchorage for pleasure craft and wunderful opportunities for children to practice canoeing skills. The western end of the beach is protected by a large bluff upon the top of which sits Cooks Lookout and Reserve. The bluff extends some distance off shore and provides shelter from westerly winds. Cooks Beach can be accessed via Highway 25 or from Whitianga by passenger ferry to Ferry Landing; from there it's a 5 minute drive by taxi.
Located between Cooks Beach and Flaxmill Bay is Shakespeare Cliff, an interesting scenic reserve. A very short track leads to a vantage point with memorable views of Mercury Bay. At the site a cairn records the arrival in 1769 of the HMS Endeavour under the command of Lieutenant Captain Cook. "No sea can hurt her..." The famous words of Captain James Cook referring to the original H.M.S. Endeavour. Lonely Bay (walk down from the Shakespeare Reserve) is a highlight of the area.
Front Beach & Flaxmill Bay are sheltered northfacing beaches, providing great swimming and rock exploring. Ferry Landing - accross the harbour from Whitianga, ferry passengers alight at the oldest stone wharf in Australasia, built in 1837. The township of Whitianga with all the amenities of a medium sized provincial centre is close by and can be reached by a short ferry trip.
Further east of Cooks Beach is famous Cathedral Cove - accessible only on foot or by boat, one of the "must visit" sites on the Coromandel Peninsula.The track begins at the northern end of Hahei. Hahei's attractive beach is named after the Maori chief Hei. From the lookout there is access to majestic Cathedral Cove and the marine reserve. The Te Pare point historic reserve at the southern end of Hahei Beach is the site of a pa occupied by the Ngati Hei people. Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve, Te Whanganui-A-Hei, covers 9 square kilometres and is New Zealand's sixth marine reserve. It is administered by the Department of Conservation.
Visitors flock to Hot Water Beach for the unique experience of digging their own natural pool. Within a certain area, naturally occurring hot water bubbles up to fill holes dug in the sand. Bring a shovel for easy digging or hire one from the Hot Water Beach Store next to the carpark.