Another Storm Brews Over Cove
Written by John Freer on October 5, 2023
By John Freer
The storm which closed Cathedral Cove is about to return but in a different form.
This time a hurricane forced combination of anger and frustration is developing as the Mercury Bay and wider Coromandel tourism sector, brews a backlash on the continued closure of the iconic visitor destination.
To date, letters to the Director General of Conservation (DOC) and the Minister for Conservation, have failed to temper or divert the building storm.
The base letter came from the Mercury Bay Business Association requesting action from DOC and explanations on why the cove walking track will remain closed until at least next year. Supporting correspondence was provided by the Thames Coromandel District Council, Destination Hauraki Coromandel, and the Member of Parliament for Coromandel, the Hon Scott Simpson.
Association spokesman, Ray van Beynan, did query Tourism New Zealand’s potential position on what is the country’s second most visited attraction.
Now, not being satisfied with responses, the association has requested a meeting with a DOC official who has decision-making capability. While no official timeline has been applied, Ray indicated the end of the week could trigger the next round of response.
What that action could be, Ray told CFM today his association was considering its options.
Tourism operators have been expressing their concerns and dismay over the lack of action and communication by DOC and its officials – even taking a shot at a recent e-newsletter released by DOC.
Ray takes up the argument: “It does not tell you anything that we didn’t already know”.
“There is no idea of timetable or action to get the track repaired and reopened. We can not understand the decision-making process, we wonder why they (DOC) are not consulting with the coastal communities.
“They are putting the project on a big pause button.”
Cathedral Cove was closed in February when less than five percent of the track down to the cove was washed away in a slip. In August, DOC advised the track would not be reopened for the summer because of the on-going risk of landslides and rockfalls. Access to the cove is still available from the sea.
To Ray and his association, the aspect of health and safety does not fly. He suspected a bigger issue was at play which involved a potential initiative to establish Cathedral Cove as a New Zealand great short walk.
This just raised the storm intensity as Ray pointed to the viability risk to many local businesses, jobs had already been lost with more being threatened and the New Zealand tourism product had lost an icon which attracted 300,000 visitors a year.