Imagine soaking in your own private hot tub on the beach, the sound of the waves crashing against the sand in the background. A cooler of beer next to you, and a bunch of friends to help you enjoy the experience. Sound good? The best part is you can do it for free. Visit Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand and this could be you.
Hot Water Beach is a long surf beach with huge crashing waves, just like any other surf beach in New Zealand. This beach has a hidden secret though, a volcano! Lying under the sand are super heated underground volcanic reservoirs that slowly release hot water at low tide. A when I say hot I mean hot! The water from the reservoirs can be up to 64 degrees Celsius so if you are with children make sure you test the water first.
The best way to experience Hot Water Beach is to go during a weekday before or after the peak season. If you head up there in January you’ll be fighting for a space on the sand with all the other tourists and it can be hard to get a space along the beach let alone to dig a spa. I recommend going in spring, autumn or even the end of summer – late February. This way although it may be a little chillier outside you are going to really enjoy soaking in the hot spa in peace.
Getting there is pretty easy but you will need your own car. Head North from Whitianga along state highway 25. The drive will take about half an hour and is well sign posted. There is a also a ferry you can catch from Whitianga to Ferry Landing. From there you will need to catch a shuttle to Hot Water Beach. If you’re coming from Auckland, it’s about a two hour drive (as shown below).
Once you reach Hot Water Beach find out the low tide times. Access to the hot water spring is 2 hours before and after low tide. You have two chances every 24 hours to build your jacuzzi so you may want to check tide times before you head there.
To reach the springs from the main beach head left, facing the sea, towards the rocks that reach out into the ocean. Just past the rocks is where the hot water is hiding. To find the best spot wander along the beach and dig your foot down into the sand. If you feel warmth you’ve found the right spot. If you are unsure ask at the local cafe or campground. Kiwis are usually super helpful and friendly.
Now you’ve found the water, get digging. You need a pretty decent metal spade to create the best outdoor spa pool. They sell them at the shop or campground there but if you’re smart you’ll by one at one of the larger towns and bring it with you. It will save you money I promise.
Once you’ve built your ocean side spa then what? Sit back, relax and soak. I recommend taking some snacks and supplies with you to maximize the experience. We took our cooler of beers last time. Some places have liquor bans but if you clean up after yourself and aren’t too loud no one usually bothers you.
If you’re planning on heading up to Hot Water Beach to visit I recommend staying over a night. There is a great campground called Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. It has a variety of accommodation options and a takeaway shop. Alternately you could stay at the next bay round called Hahei Beach. This beach has a great micro brewery and is the access way to the famous Cathedral Cove Beach.
What are your friendly tips? Don’t be shy. Let us know by leaving a comment below.