Hot Water Beach: When To Go & What To Do

If you’ve ever fancied creating your own thermal bath in the middle of a beautiful beach you are going to love Hot Water Beach.

The world renowned Hot Water Beach in The Coromandel has a totally unique feature – the ability to make your own thermal hot pool with temperatures of up to 64 °C (147 °F) ! So if you have ever dreamt as a child of digging a hole on a beach and the water being as warm as a bath here is your only chance!

beach location
Credit: Tourism NZ

So where is Hot Water Beach?

Hot Water Beach is situated on the North island of New Zealand in the Coromandel region. By road it’s 175km from Auckland and can certainly be done as part of a weekend trip away from the city. It’s located just five minutes from the beautiful Hahei which also houses another amazing beach Coromandel Cove – but more about that later.

You can park near to the beach or alternatively stay on the local campsite which is only 700 metres away. Hot Water Beach is culturally significant to the local tribe of Mercury Bay, Ngati Hei, and historians believe it has been populated by them for a thousand years. So it’s important to note that as well as having fun you make sure you respect the local area and follow the rules.

Hot Water Beach Reserve
Credit: Charlie Brewer @ Flickr CC

What not to do…

Even though visiting Hot Water Beach can be an amazing experience many people don’t read up enough before they go and so come away disappointed. Here are some handy tips:

Dont Just Turn Up on A Whim – to be able to dig above the thermal fissures in the rocks underneath the beach you need to be 2 hours each side of low tide. Any other time the rocks will be underwater.

Don’t Just Dig Anywhere on the Beach – only a small area next to a rocky outcrop on the beach has thermal waters underneath it. Dig anywhere else and all you’ll get is cold water

Don’t Take Food & Drinks Into The Pools – nobody wants food or even worse broken glass floating around in their hot pool so nothing edible is allowed to be consumed on the beach.

Credit: John Englart @ Flickr CC

You’ll be needing a spade…

Unless you are planning on creating a lovely little foot spa you are going to need a great big spade. If you have stopped as part of a tour it’s highly likely your tour guide has a stack of them in his boot. If not then you can easily hire one from a number of locations next to the beach for around NZ$5 :

Where to Dig on Hot Water Beach
Credit: gérard @ Flickr CC

Where and when to dig

So you’ve found the beach and got hold of your trusty spade but where to start the digging? Well first things first make sure you are 2 hours either side of low tide. You can check the tide times here. Now there are two locations where the fissures release hot water under the sand. The first is on the beach directly across from the three rocks that are around 40 metres into the sea (see pic). The second place you can start digging is just back from the first location next to the rock that sticks out from the land the most.

As you can imagine during peak summertime it can get a bit crowded on the beach and so it’s good to find your spot early even before the water has receded. Even when covered in the sea you should be able to wiggle your toes and feel warm water in the sand below. Start small so you can make sure you’ve found a good amount of warm water but also don’t forget about allowing some cold in as well! Remember there’s usually more people than space for pools so be prepared to share your pool with others – it’s a great way to meet other backpackers and travellers!

Photo by marina on Unsplash
Photo by Zac Harris on Unsplash

Don’t forget Cathedral Cove

You may well have spotted the beautiful Cathedral Cove on the screensaver on Windows 10 and it’s only 10 minutes away from Hot Water Beach on a short clifftop walk from Hahei which also boasts a beautiful beach and chilled out vibe.

A great way to explore the Coastline and view the Cove from the far side (although you could walk through it big warning signs state you could be killed by falling rocks!) is to do a sea kayaking trip. The trips start in Hahei and then pull into the beach for a quick break and brew with your fellow paddlers.

Cove from Kayak
View from your Sea Kayak