Crowned as New Zealand’s best beach destination, Whitianga, on the Coromandel Peninsula.
The beautiful Mercury Bay was named by British explorer Lieutenant James Cook on his first voyage of discovery to mark the place where his expedition observed the transit of the planet Mercury in 1769.
Whanganui A Hei (Cathedral Cove) and its Marine Reserve is part of the area first claimed by Hei, a tohunga (priest) on Te Arawa waka at the time of the Polynesian migration to New Zealand, around 1350 AD.
It is said he made this claim near the present day site of Hahei. Hei's descendants, as tangata whenua, still retain a strong ancestral and spiritual attachment to the site, and continue their role as guardians, or kaitiaki, of the resources within it.
The volcanic terrain of Mercury Bay has created beautiful scenery around Cathedral Cove and Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and can be enjoyed from above or below the water. Including rich and varied marine and coastal life, rock reefs and soft sandy bottoms that house communities of plants, crustaceans, molluscs and fish.
Crayfish, Black Angel fish, Porcupine fish, stingrays, several wrasse species and plenty more hide in the cracks and crevices of the reefs around the reserve and neighbouring Islands.
The reserve ensures there is an abundance of wildlife that you can see up close and personal for yourself as well as helping to preserve this for future generations.
Delicate corals, usually found at depth, are close to the surface in the neighbouring Poikeke Island caves. Closer to shore, brittle starfish might be found on rocky platforms and red moki graze amid forests of seaweed. Predators like the leather-jacket feed on the smaller animals.
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