Situated on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, Hot Water Beach, although pretty, looks fairly ordinary by New Zealand standards. It does however have a little party trick up its sleeve which, as you’ve no doubt already guessed, involves hot water.

Here’s the thing though, visit Hot Water Beach at the wrong time and you’ll see absolutely nothing. That’s because the geothermal springs that give this beach its name are actually covered for much of the day and it’s only at low tide, and a few hours either side of low tide, that you get to enjoy this unique experience. However, if you have visions of having this place entirely to yourself then you better be an early riser or, better yet, enjoying soaking under the stars because this place gets busy. How busy you ask? Does this photo answer your question?

Hot water Beach pools
spades optional but highly recommended as the water really is hot

But don’t let that put you off. If you don’t mind the hustle and bustle and don’t have a problem sharing with people of all shapes, sizes and nationalities then you’ll enjoy the real melting pot that is Hot Water Beach, ha ha… hot water, pot… get it? 😉

Of course, if you are lucky enough to be travelling through Coromandel out of season and you time it just right, you may find it’s just you and a few other souls on the beach. Even late at night you’re likely to make some new hot tub friends as holidaymakers staying at the nearby Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park usually head over to the beach at night when the tide is right.

Something else worth mentioning is that Hot Water is a popular surf spot although this beach break does tend to closeout when the swell picks up and the rips can be quite strong. There are also rocks close to shore that are submerged once the tide starts to push in so you don’t want to go diving in headfirst. Better to just be safe and wallow in your pool until the returning tide undoes all of your hard work.

X Marks the Spot

Unfortunately there is no X, so figuring out where to dig can be a little tricky if you happen to be the first there after the high tide has washed the previous pools away. Here’s how you can look like you know what you’re doing. From the parking near the cafe, cross over the small stream and walk north (left) along the beach until you get to the first rock outcrop on your left. From there, walk another 30m until you’re in line with rocks sticking out of the water to your right and a largish rock on your left. Start digging and enjoy.

Finally, for those of you interested in geothermally stuff, there are in fact two springs about 20m apart. They are fed from groundwater reservoirs heated by cooling magma about 2km below the surface. The 170 °C (338 °F) magma heats the water which rises through fractures in the crust until it eventually heats your toes and other unsuspecting body parts at around 60 to 64 °C (140+ °F). So for obvious reasons, a spade is highly recommended. For those of you (which is most of us) who don’t happen to carry around a spade, you can hire one from the beachfront cafe. There are also toilets and showers (cold only) available.

Have you visited the Coromandel and enjoyed the thermal springs at Hot Water Beach? Share your experience with us.