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New Zealand > Waikato > Coromandel Peninsula > Hot Water Beach
By Jessica Lloyd

Hot mineral water bubbles up from deep in the earth at low tide. You can dig your own spa pool in the sand and soak before plunging into the cooler Pacific Ocean to swim or catch a wave.

Grab your spade and get diggin’!

Where else on earth can you go to a beach, dig a hole, and have a steaming hot spa? Nowhere. Well almost. Hot Water Beach is the crème de la crème of unique things to do in New Zealand. It is right up there with a real Rotorua geyser, but nicer.

It’s all about the timing
You can’t just bowl on up and expect the earth to spew out hot water at any given place you decide you want to dig your hole. There is a time and a place, which most people don’t realise until they go all the way there, and walk around in circles wondering what to do while the high tide bashes the sand, leaving no room for cutesy little hot pools.

There are two ends to Hot Water Beach. To find where the hot water is, just look for steam rising out of the sand along the shoreline at low tide.

Two hours before and after low tide is the best time to go. See low tide times here. Find yourself a cosy spot somewhere while the water is out, dig yourself a hole, and be amazed while the cockles of your heart are warmed. Or should I say broiled. The water is hot! Up to 75°C hot, in fact. It could be good to mix it with some cold water, so plan your possie carefully! Digging holes in wet sand is not the most relaxing of work, but the final collapse into your hole after all your hard work is definitely a cool, whoops I mean hot, experience. Add a glass of wine and good company, and it is a most memorable trip.

Forget your spade?
There is spade hire in summer for $4 per spade, which is a little steep for what you get, but hey, it’s a tourist-zone. If you are on too much of a budget to hire a spade, you could always use your hands…or a book, a rock, a broken tree stump…

Other Stuff to do at Hot Water Beach
Swimming, snorkelling, diving, and surfing are all popular activities at this thermal beach. There is a lot more to it than just the natural sandy spa area, and this area has a lot going for it. The beach is handsome, and lined with Pohutakawa trees (the New Zealand Christmas tree). Swimming can be dangerous here and is not really recommended for weak swimmers. Of course every day brings its own conditions, so just use common sense when going into the water.

There is a camping ground here, Hot Water Beach Holiday Park, with good facilities. There are also a couple of B&B’s, which would be a very relaxing way to spend a few days. It is prohibited to camp/park up overnight in the car park to the beach, and you can get a fine if you are caught.

Getting there
Hot Water Beach is located just south of Mercury Bay at the northeast tip of the Coromandel Peninsula

Volcanic activity below the earth creates a reservoir of superheated water which slowly escapes to the surface. Two fissures at Hot Water Beach issue 15 litres/minute of hot water up to 64ºC or 147ºF. This water contains mineral salt, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fluorine, bromine and silica.

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