Visitors heading for Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel this year should take care when walking through the cove's iconic archway, the Department of Conservation (DOC) warned today.

Instability in the roof of the archway, including a recent rock fall, has prompted DOC to seek advice from consulting engineers on the potential for further rock falls.

Although the risk did not warrant permanent closing of the popular cove, DOC said visitors needed to be aware that further rocks could fall at any time, and visitors to the beach should take care and follow guidelines if they chose to walk through the archway.

"We are currently considering remedial works to increase safety, but have now received sufficient advice to allow this extremely popular tourist attraction to remain open over the summer period," said DOC Waikato conservator Greg Martin.

"Therefore we are keeping it open - but asking people to take personal responsibility in their choice of walking under the archway, and to be aware of the possible danger."

Warning signs advising visitors of the risk of rock fall have been erected around the archway and at the Cathedral Cove carpark. Mr Martin said the department was waiting on a report from engineers on options for stabilising the archway roof and would also consult the local community on long-term options.

In the meantime, DOC had decided not to renew the permit for a local vendor selling drinks and sandwiches on the beach as it did not want to encourage visitors while it considered management options for the archway at Cathedral Cove.

Mr Martin said the vendor had done an excellent job and the decision not to renew his permit was due to safety concerns around the cove.

- NZPA