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Gore Bay and the Cathedral Cliffs, North Canterbury

Gore Bay and the Cathedral Cliffs, North Canterbury

We’re always on the lookout for unique natural wonders (luckily we live in New Zealand so we never have to go far!), so when we saw a picture of the Cathedral Cliffs overlooking Gore Bay we knew we had to go there. It turned out to be a really easy detour from the main highway between Christchurch and Kaikoura, which has only just reopened a year after the big earthquake.

The Cathedral Cliffs

Having spent the night at the nearby Hurunui Mouth campsite, we arrived fairly early to the Cathedral Cliffs. Well, early for us — we do enjoy a good sleep in! It probably wasn’t the best time to visit in terms of photography (we were there around 10am) but it was an impressive sight nonetheless. The Cathedral Cliffs viewpoint is right by the main road. You get a great view over the cliffs all the way down to Gore Bay. The area looks a lot like the Clay Cliffs close to Mount Cook — basically a dry, cracked collection of eroded siltstone pillars (don’t worry, I’d never heard the term “siltstone pillars” either until about five minutes ago).

The Cathedral Cliffs near Gore Bay, North Canterbury, New ZealandThe Cathedral Cliffs above Gore Bay, North Canterbury, New Zealand

Gore Bay

The road continues down to Gore Bay, a rough (but still attractive) beach backed by baches (holiday houses) and a camping ground. It’s a nice place for a morning walk but there isn’t too much to see. Apparently there’s a walking track which takes around an hour to complete. It could be worth a look but the website I saw that on said the views are better from the Cathedral Cliffs viewpoint. If you’re looking for a truly spectacular beach nearby head to Manuka Bay – the turnoff is located on the road between Hurunui Mouth and Gore Bay.

READ MORE: Camping at Hurunui Mouth, North Canterbury

Gore Bay, North Canterbury, New ZealandGore Bay Beach, North Canterbury, New Zealand

Getting to Gore Bay

The road heads towards the coast from the main road at Domett and loops around to eventually end up in Cheviot. If you go that route you can stop off at Hurunui Mouth and Manuka Bay, but if you’re only interested in visiting Gore Bay and the Cathedral Cliffs it’s probably quicker to go through Cheviot and then return the same way. Most people breeze straight through this region but it definitely has its charms. Cheviot is also worth stopping at – there’s a nice stone church and there are several places to eat and fill up on petrol.

READ MORE: Manuka Bay, North Canterbury

A stone church in Cheviot, the gateway to Gore Bay, New Zealand

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.