Track Closure Grief Is On-going

Written by on December 6, 2023

By John Freer

Over recent days, CFM has spoken to several people who rely on the Cathedral Cove international tourism market.

Hahei based, Phil Ander, holds real concern for the reputational damage being caused to the region’s international tourism product as a result of the on-going closure of the Cathedral Cove walking track.

Phil quoted an example of a couple from the Netherlands, who came expressly to see Cathedral Cove. They could not walk there which was their first choice, but then due to poor weather could not take a boat or kayak trip.

Phil’s words: “You could see the disappointment in their faces”.

He describes the cove as the iconic destination which attracts the people to the region and, he like many others, continues to question why is it not being reopened.

This week a national tourist operator advised that it was reducing its tours into the Coromandel Peninsula and Mercury Bay from daily, to five days a week.

It was the news that Hot Water Beach Top 10 owner, Sheree Webster, had been anticipating, and dreading, on the back of the closure of the walking track. Like many businesses, Sheree, and husband Grant, remain angry that the area’s major tourism drawcard remains blocked – a steel structure closing off Hahei’s Grange Road carpark, when they believe that work should have been directed at fixing the track.

Mercury Bay Business Association continues to work behind the scenes, Ray van Beynan is the spokesman, telling us his group wants to work with any party in order to achieve the goal of repairing and reopening the reserve without further delay.

In a release to CFM, the association stated it had close to 40 percent of businesses tell them that they are expecting their trading to worsen due to the Cathedral Cove closure. The release went on: “we are encouraged by State Highway 25A being open for the coming holiday season, Cathedral Cove should also be open”.

“The Department of Conservation must accept and shoulder the blame for this – the track should have been reopened, it is a tragedy not just for those people trying to earn a living here, but for the tourists who are coming to walk the track and finding it closed which were hear happens daily.

“While we appreciate there are other options, walking the track is integral in the tourism product we offer. It has been said, and we reiterate this – how do you get a state highway reopened, but you cannot do the same for a walking track, why is this?”

Open the link below to hear a full interview with Sheree and more on this story.


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