One of the great things about meeting fellow travellers and talking to local Kiwis is discovering the most fascinating natural wonders of New Zealand. We first heard of Hot Water beach from our nomadic friends Nashant and Isabell and couldn’t believe what they were describing. Hot water that comes out of the sand? Near the frigid ocean? No way, we have to see it for ourselves. We rented a car and travelled two beautiful scenic hours east of Auckland to the coast of Coromandel Peninsula to discover this unique beach. We weren’t prepared for one of the best experiences of a lifetime.
Picture this: You're relaxing in a natural hot tub just inches away from the Pacific Ocean while soaking up the stunning beaches and sun. No worries if the ocean waves get a bit chilly because the deeper you dig in the sand, the hotter it gets!
Here’s the scoop: You can dig your own geothermal hot pool in one of the world’s largest sandboxes. If that doesn’t blow your mind, we seriously need to talk. Geothermal water naturally rises through the sand between high and low tides, creating one of New Zealand’s most visited natural springs. Visitors, like us, dig large holes, relax and soak in the thermal water. It’s a phenomena that we are still wrapping our heads around and vlogged about our Hot Water Beach experience on our YouTube channel. But before you go, here are 7 things that you need to know before your arrival.
1. Although the beach is known for its heated mineral water, it’s important to realize that the entire beach is not a flaming hot sandbox. Naturally, there are concentrated areas in the sand that reach up to 175 degrees °F! Yes you read that correctly, that was not a typo. The unmarked areas are part of the experience of hunting the perfect spot to create your spa. Before wasting precious time digging, test an area first by burying your toes in the sand to determine whether it is hot enough for your comfort level. Trust us, you’ll know if you’ve hit the mark once your toes get a little below the grains of sand.
2. The geothermal activity occurs around the clock, however the optimal time to experience the hot spa is two hours either side of the low tide when the tide is low enough to expose the sand with hot water underneath. The best time to visit was between 9 am – 2 pm when the tide is at its lowest*. Be sure to check the weather conditions and local tide prior to your arrival.
3. Arrive early in the morning to stake claim on a spot and sit there all day. Trust us, people will be clamoring like crazy for prime geothermal real estate so don’t come to the party late or else you will feel like an intruder.
4. Avoid the crowds and visit on a weekday instead of the weekend. This should be feasible since you’re on vacation while the locals are at work. We visited on a Wednesday at 9 am and it was just enough people to join in on the fun.
5. Bring or buy a shovel at the nearby surf shop for $5 NZD* which is roughly $3 USD*. Don’t skimp your way around it and think you can dig with your hands. It would be a waste of time and energy! There is a $20 deposit however $15 is returned upon receipt of the shovel.
6. If digging is too much trouble for a party of one, join a group of people and suggest making one large super-size spa. Chances are they are already digging and your contribution will lighten the work load. Afterwards, relax all day with your new beach friends while exchanging travel stories.
7. Bring or borrow a bucket. Depending on how hot your mini spa is, you may want to grab chilled water from the Pacific Ocean to cool it down. If a bucket is not nearby, wade cautiously into waist deep water (and no further) to cool down, then return to your steam bath.
Tip: Hot Water Beach is known for its dangerous rip currents, holes and large waves. Signs at the beach advise swimmers not to swim beyond a certain point so make sure to adhere to the warning signs and you should be fine.
*information is based on the time of this post
Now that you’ve got the inside scoop, check out our Hot Water Beach vlog on our YouTube channel!