The first leg of my trip on my Kiwi Bus Pass was from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula. Only about an hours drive East, we stopped at Cathedral Cove and then stayed the night at Hot Water Beach. Cathedral Cove is ranked as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by Lonely Planet! Be warned, it is about a 45 minute walk, or should I say hike, from the car park to the beach. But, once you get there, you will not want to leave. There is some shade when you need it and the water felt amazing after soaking up some sun. I ended up swimming out to a rock and jumping off of it!
You can kayak and paddle board from the beach as well. It can get crowded so if you want a prime spot, get there early. Our next stop was Hot Water Beach. This beach has hot springs below the sand, so during low tides people come out and dig out small pools to make little hot tubs. The water when it rises is so hot, many visitors bring cold water from the beach to make it suitable to sit in long term. Some people even dig a little stream to the ocean for the hot water to leave. It can be as hot as 150 degrees F!
When we got to Hot Water Beach, it was overcast and rainy. To me, since the water from the hot spring was SO HOT, I didn’t mind. I don’t know how people can stand it on a nice, sunny day! I would suggest going to Hot Water Beach on a not so nice day to be able to appreciate the water.
Again, be sure to look up the tides before hand, as you can only dig these personal spas 2 hours either side of low tide. Also, don’t forget to bring a shovel! You can buy one ahead of time here. A local tip is to stick your toes into the sand before you start digging. If your toes are cold, don’t start digging. If they are warm, then go ahead as the hot springs will most likely be right there.
Disclaimer: these photos are from my time in the Coromandel in the summer (Jan/Feb). I started my bus trip again in July, which is now winter, and the conditions were much different. I didn’t bother doing the walk to Cathedral Cove as it was raining hard. Low tide was also at 9pm at night at Hot Water Beach and I decided to skip it, again, due to the weather. I did hear from others on my bus that the stars were great as it was super clear that night. I was just being a wuss and not wanting to get sick the first day of the trip!
Have you ever been to natural hot springs?