Hot Water Beach and the Sand Spas.
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Schedule of the Visit.
- 1A Day at Hot Water Beach.
- 2Searching the Lost Source!
- 3Dig Your Own Spa in the Sand.
- 4So You Think You Have Tried Everything?
- 5How to Refresh Yourself?
- 6The Most Original Beach in the Country.
A Day at Hot Water Beach.
Hot Water Beach is like no other beach. At first glance there is nothing special. It almost suffers from comparison with other wonders of the country. And yet it appears in the ranking of Kiwipal’s best activities ranking.
The most popular beach in New Zealand is visited by 700,000 tourists each year! Located south of Mercury Bay in the Waikato region, it is an accessible place where Pohutukawas trees grow.
Thermal source of volcanic origin flow about fifteen meters deep: two underground fissures filter a boiling water that slowly rises to the surface. With a rate of 15 liters per second, the source mixed with seawater warms up the sand.
Therefore, you just have to dig in the sand to get hot water. Within minutes you can create your private Jacuzzi. Imagine the joy to be able to lie down and relax without fear as if you were in your bath at home.
Chris is an Australian friend of mine who traveled to New Zealand last year. He went to Hot Water Beach during winter but did not manage to find the source as he was all alone on the beach.
It's a bit like searching gold in a river: it is not enough to know that it exists... you still need to be at the right place.
You will avoid reproducing my friend’s mistake if you follow my advice. I hope you have your swimsuits and beach towels, because you’ll need them for sure!
Searching the Lost Source!
If my friend did not find a place to dig, it is because of the tide. Do not make the same mistake. The ideal moment for enjoying Hot Water Beach is within a two-hour interval before or after low tide.
Outside this period, you can still sunbathe, but you would miss the most essential activity. To get a schedule of the tides, read the advice of our guide Ben at the end of the page, and beware to sunburn!
Now, imagine that you are present at the right time on the beach. I have often seen people digging near holes left by other researchers. But there is a safe bet that it is false leads. And it would not be funny if it were that easy right?
Start by identifying the rocky outcrops. They are in the middle of the beach, between the hamlet and the Domain Rd parking.
If you don’t have a shovel (and this is, alas, true for most people), you'll quickly be tired of digging with your own hands. Oh! You may succeed making yourself a good bath seat, but it would be a shame... If you stay in the region, Beds & Breakfasts often lend equipment.
But if you really come empty-handed, you can rent what you need in the two cafes that overlook the beach ($5).
I have several techniques to identify where to dig. If it's a cold day, you just need to observe the sand carefully. If its smoky, the it is a good sign. But if the weather is sunny, the temperature difference does not allow this method. In which case we will have to use tricks to discover the source.
Turn the sand in some places with your foot. Do you smell a very slight sulfur odor? If this is the case, you can start digging. But if you don’t smell anything, then we will use the hard way!
Begin by digging anywhere you want. No need to create a real trench because 20 centimeters is enough. Put your hand on the sand. If it is hot, you've hit the jackpot! If not, don’t give up and try a few meters away. You will succeed, do not be discouraged if it takes some time!
Dig Your Own Spa in the Sand.
If you dig on the right place, your hole will fill with hot water. The water emerges from the ground and you can see small bubbles as well. Congratulations, but be careful especially if you have children with you…
The water can sometimes reach the temperature of 66° C (147° F). You may get burned if you dig with your hands. Not to mention the sand that can also be very hot.
Don’t panic, you will not unearth a geyser, the flow is quite slow. If the source is really too hot, you can cool it with sea water. It is also necessary to have brought a bucket. If you don’t have one, you can dig a little further or expand your pool.
The temperature differences vary greatly just a few meters apart.
Just dig 50 cm deep to fill your natural spa.
When the temperature is right for you, sit like as if you were in your bathtub. It's nice and it relaxes the muscles after a long drive.
In summer the most famous beach in New Zealand is often crowded. But do not be discouraged immediately. However, if a queue has formed to access the car park, you should come back later. Otherwise you may wait, it is well worth the effort.
On busy days, it's like the tower of Babel with many nationalities being represented. It's like is an open-air construction site and with so many people digging, and it may not look like a nice beach at first sight. Fortunately, the tide will reseal every hole in the sand.
If you cannot find space to dig, do not be shy. Ask permission to share a cozy spa with its tenants.
Be patient and look around you. It is rare that people stay more than 45 minutes. In the summer when it's hot, lounging in a pool of 35 degrees makes thirsty: then you will get your chance.
Did you enjoy it well? Then it's time to try some original experiments.
So You Think You Have Tried Everything?
If like me you had the good idea to bring a book or a bottle to drink, you will understand the true meaning of the word relaxation. As I never do things by half, I always come here with friends and many shovels to dig deep spas.
On my second attempt, I was almost above the source. The water was far too hot for my taste. I looked around me and I spotted mussels on the rocks. I remembered that Maori used the hot springs for cooking. It’s easy to imagine what you can do…
It works! I dropped the mussels for 25 minutes in the hot water. Not only was it cooked, but it was also delicious. Since the water is approaching 66 ° C, it is not yet boiling. But we can still cook many things... It just takes a little more time and imagination.
I tested the boiled eggs. After 35 minutes of cooking, it was tasty but it’s just eggs after all...
That's what I call real organic food. No pollution and the feeling of being a kind of Maori warrior. Imagine the heads of passersby when they spot you. You are in a steaming hot tub, trying to enjoy boiled eggs. I even heard stories about people staying there by night to watch the stars.
If you are still hungry, visit the Hot Water Beach Store. Coffee is served there accompanied by an excellent carrot cake. I don’t know who cooks at Hot Waves Café a little further, but it is delicious and the staff are very welcoming. You're surely not leaving right now; the day has just begun.
How to Refresh Yourself?
A beach spa is great, but swimming is even better after. There is a bounded area of 50 m where you can swim (if the lifeguards are present).
Outside this area, the underwater currents are dangerous. They can lead you off if you are not experienced. Hot Water Beach is a fantastic beach indeed, but at the risk of repeating myself, be careful in the water and watch the younger ones.
While being almost asleep in my spa, I watched the surfers who occupy the northern part of the beach.
A little jealous first then curious, I consider it was time to try surfing. There is a specialized shop nearby.
I asked to rent a surfboard, but the seller advised me to take a real lesson before. I thought surfing was hard, but I realized it’s quite easy to learn!
Three hours of surf lessons with a great instructor (wetsuit and board included), and I am a real surfer! Well, to be honest ... I was only able to stand ten seconds on my board, but what an experience!
If you are not interested in surf lessons, you can always try fishing.
Here, we practice surfcasting. It is a popular technique in New Zealand which consists to walk few meters into the ocean to cast a line. It's a more physical activity than one might believe. I had beginner's luck and it was very amusing. Another improvised souvenir!
The Most Original Beach in the Country.
Hot Water Beach is the choke point for travelers going north. The magnificent arch of Cathedral Cove is a 5-minute drive away. The Paradise of Hahei beaches are 8 short minutes. You can do everything in one day.
Over the years, I developed a well-performing organization. I left Auckland early and I roll up to the famous Hot Water Beach without stopping. Driving is easy and the landscape along the road are breathtaking. When I arrive on the spot, I check the car park and I make a decision according to the number of people on the beach.
Locals often repeat that you should comebetween December and March. But you can even come the rest of the year. During the low season, you don’t have to share the beach with so many people. The atmosphere is fantastic with sand smoking. Travelers help each other and you can make friends.
If it's a little cold outside, wait until you have dug your spa to put on a swimsuit. I've brought a thermometer in September. With a light drizzle, the thermometer showed 12° C. My beach Jacuzzi was 35° C. All in all, it was even better than in summer!
Even if you do not swim, it's still great fun to go in search of the source. Children love it. After several hours in New Zealand on the road, a free is a real paradise!
Our friend Ben the Kiwi knows this beach by heart. He will give you some practical advice. And of course, send us photos of your trip, we will publish them on Kiwipal!
Questions & Answers.
What can I do for you? I love this beach in spring, but not that much during summer... It is near Cathedral Cove and it seems logical to stop at Hot Water Beach after, but follow the advice of Guillaume in case of affluence.
- All topics ... 23 answers in total
- Digging a Spa in the Sand 6 answers
- Restaurants 4 answers
- Beaches and Activities 4 answers
- Accommodation and Camping 4 answers
- Schedules and Rates 3 answers
- Transports 1 answer
- Weather 1 answer
Digging a Spa in the Sand
- Where can we rent shovels?
Shovels can be rented at the Hot Water Beach Store (Pye PI, 9 am - 7 pm in summer and at low tide in winter), and at the Hot Waves Café (8 Pye Pi, second car park, from 8:30 am to 4 pm). In all cases, the rental costs $5.
- Where is the best place to dig?
It is on the outskirts of the spring, where hot water mixes with cold water, near the rocks on the beach.
- How to adjust the temperature of the water?
With a bucket, you can refresh the spa with sea water. Conversely, you will have to raise walls to delay the tide. When the water cools, a few blows of shovels will bring back a little hot water.
- Is this a common phenomenon in New Zealand?
There is no more geothermal activity in the Coromandel Peninsula. Hot Water Beach is an exception, but hot springs are very widespread throughout the country.
- Is water from the source beneficial for health?
Some say it relieves arthritis. Do not drink it, it is not drinkable. It contains salt, magnesium, calcium, fluoride, bromine and silica.
- Do we need to refill the holes before leaving?
Don't worry... The sea will refill the holes and the beach will be like new at your arrival. Of course, if you have dug a deep hole, you can still fill it up so nobody could fall into.
- Can we picnic on the beach?
Yes, provided you leave it clean when you leave. Remember to bring drinks to enjoy in your spa.
- What can I cook in the hot water?
To start with, you need a saucepan, because the water is not drinkable. To start, you can try to cook mussels found on the beach. Come with a thermometer and measure the temperature before trying to cook anything. Knowing that the water can reach 66 ° maximum, you should be able to cook meats or fish.
Blood red meat (55 ° C)
Fish (54 ° C)
Duck fillet (60 ° C)
Lamb (60 ° C)
Chicken fillet (62 ° C)
Rabbit (66 ° C)
You can try to warm up cheese to garnish a sandwich, but your spa neighbors will curse you ...
- Where to find a Fish & Chips?
At the Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park (September to late April)
- Is-it possible to do shopping here?
The place is quite a no man's land, so do not expect to go shopping here. You will not even find a gas station there.
Beaches and Activities
- Can we enjoy sunbathing?
Indeed, but beware of sunburn when you are in your spa.
- Can we have a shower after swimming?
There is a shower outside to clean before leaving and a cabin.
- Is this a good surf spot?
It is a recommended spot. The best breaks in the North before the main beach.
- Can we rent surfboards?
There is a shop in front of the beach, open according to the tide. A course of two hours, surfboard and combination included costs about $70.Hot Water Beach Surf
Accommodation and Camping
- Is there a car park?
There are even two. The one located before the coffee is often less crowded.
- Can we camp there?
It is forbidden to camp in the car park (do not hope to escape the fine, even if there are few people). Opt for the Hot Water Beach Holiday Park (790 Hot Water Beach Rd) instead.Hot Water Beach camping
- Can we stay on site with a small budget?
At Auntie Dawn's there is room for backpackers in the summer. And the garden with its pohutukawa is superb.Auntie Dawn
- Where to buy souvenirs?
At the Moko. It's not exactly a souvenir shop but who cares? Located near the beach it is open from 10 am to 5 pm in summer and during low tide in winter. There are sculptures, jewellery and decorative arts of quality.Moko souvenirs
Schedules and Rates
- Where to find the tide schedule?
Near the parking there is a sign post indicating the schedules of the tides. If you are connected to the Internet, consult the schedule in advance:Hot Water Beach tides
- Is it paying?
Free access to the beach and car parks.
- Can we come at night?
I will not recommend going on the beach at night. Especially if you have children. But if the sky is clear and you see the full moon why not? Be careful anyway, and don't go swimming in the sea.
- Is there a bus to get there?
Buses from / to Haei can drop you off by reservation only. Tairua Bus Company provides daily service to Coromandel, Haei, Hot water Beach and Tairua.Tairua Bus Company
- Can we come even if the weather is bad?
If it rains but if you don't feel cold, you can still try. Not necessarily for swimming, but for the pleasure of digging a spa in the sand.
On the Country Map
Hot Water Beach is located on the Coromandel peninsula of the North Island (Waikato region).
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