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Hot Water Beach New Zealand: Essential Guide

The Essential Guide to Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

Are you looking forward to visiting Hot Water Beach? Not quite sure what to expect once you get to Hot Water Beach?

I completely understand! Going to Hot Water Beach was a must-do for our family’s trip to New Zealand. But I didn’t really know what to expect until I got there.

So I wrote this post to answer any questions you might have about going to Hot Water Beach in New Zealand.

Before you go to Hot Water Beach, you need to know these important Hot Water Beach tips. This post has essential info and tips about so that you have an amazing experience when you go to Hot Water Beach.

This hot springs beach in New Zealand is world-famous for a reason! There aren’t many places where you can relax in your own hot spring pool while gazing over the Pacific Ocean.

Visiting Hot Water Beach was a highlight of my family’s trip to New Zealand. Hot Water Beach is definitely one of the best beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula! It truly is a beach like no other!

What makes Hot Water Beach Special?

Hot Water Beach, also called Te Puia, is so special because you can dig your own natural hot springs pool right at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. You can create your own personal hot pool right on the beach!

Two kilometers below ground, there’s a reservoir of water and hot rock left by volcanic activity millions of years ago. Water that’s been heated by underground thermal vents comes to the earth’s surface at Hot Water Beach. Low tide reveals the area of sand where the water trickles up.

Underground geothermal activity is a natural phenomenon in New Zealand, and hot springs are found all across the country. But the fact that at Hot Water Beach, the hot springs are right on the beach is pretty incredible.

The hot springs on the beach are the most unique feature of Hot Water Beach. But the beach is also famous for its beauty. The scenic surroundings are stunning.

The scenic surroundings are stunning. Hot Water Beach is classic New Zealand coastline. You’ll see hear thunderous rolling surf and see rocky crags lining the coast.

The overall effect is a big magic: you’re in a beautiful paradise, and, after a bit of industrious digging, you get to soak in a hot spring pool while you enjoy it all.

Where is Hot Water Beach?

Hot Water Beach is on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island. Hot Water Beach is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Auckland.

Hot springs beach: Where’s the hot water?

The area of the beach with hot water is at the northern end of the beach, where the rocks are. The beach is long, and there’s just a small area with hot water vents. But the large rock in the surf will indicate where to dig.

From the Hot Water Beach parking lot, you’ll cross a stream and walk towards the ocean. Walk along the beach until you see rocks in the surf on your right and the cliff on your left protrudes towards the beach.

Standing between the rocky outcrop and the rocks in the surf, you’ll see where the heat vents are.

Wiggle your toes into the sand to test the temperature. If it’s warm, but not to hot, use your spade or shovel to dig about one foot down and see if you find comfortably hot water. Then you can dig out a larger area to create your own spa pool.

If that sounds complicated, don’t worry! Chances are that other visitors are already there! That was certainly the case when we were there, so we just followed the crowd to the right spot.

Is the Water Actually Hot?

The hot water springs can be extremely hot, so be careful when digging and entering the pools. If you’re at Hot Water Beach with younger kids, watch them carefully. The water from the hot spring on the beach can be as hot as 64°C (147°F).

Add cold water from the ocean to make your pool just the right temperature.

A word of caution: before stepping into an abandoned pool, be sure to test the temperature. It might be abandoned because the water filling it is much too hot to tolerate!

What is there to do at Hot Water Beach?

The main reason why people go to Hot Water Beach is to dig their own hot springs pool on the beach. It’s a really fun and slightly surreal experience to dig in the sand and expose hot water water flowing up into the beach.

Also, Hot Water Beach is lovely beach. So it’s popular with New Zealand holiday-makers and foreign tourists alike.

You can also enjoy great food and the few local shops. And the area is a great jumping off point to explore the many other beaches and trails of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Hot Water Beach is free to access and is open year-round.

Can you surf at Hot Water Beach?

Yes, you can surf at Hot Water Beach. However, be careful of strong undertows.

Hot Water Beach has good breaks in moderate easterly swells.

Is it safe to swim at Hot Water Beach?

Hot Water Beach is not the safest beach for swimming, even for strong swimmers. It is definitely not a safe beach for children to swim.

Hot water Beach has strong currents, holes, dangerous riptides, and large waves. Lifeguards are not always present, so check before you swim.

Always swim between the flags. Be aware of ocean conditions before you go in the water. Surf or swim at your own risk.

Best Time to go to Hot Water Beach?

Low Tide Hot Water Beach

The thermal waters of Hot Water Beach are exposed in the two hours before and two hours after low tide. During this time, the sand where the hot springs bubble up is exposed.

If you want to make your own hot spring pool at Hot Water Beach, you’ll want to visit during the window of time two hours before to two hours after low tide.

At high tide, the ocean covers the hot water area of the beach and washes away all the personal spa pools that visitors made.

The beach can get quite crowded, so be sure to plan ahead and arrive early to get a spot. The beach is busy all year round, but is particularly crowded in the summer.

Hot water beach tide times

The best time to visit Hot Water Beach is during low tide. This is when the natural hot water springs are most accessible. Check the times for low tide at Hot Water Beach before you go. This site has a tide schedule to help you find the right time to get to Hot Water Beach for low tide!

What to bring to Hot Water Beach

Bring a shovel

Most importantly, you’ll want to bring a shovel to Hot Water Beach. While you could scoop sand with your hands, it would take ages to dig out a big enough pool for soaking. Trust me, a shovel or spade makes the job much easier.

If you forgot a shovel, you can rent one from Hotties Beachstore. This obviously wouldn’t be an option outside of business hours, though, so plan ahead.

Pro tip: If you forgot a shovel and don’t want to rent one, just wait for someone to leave! If you arrive near the end of low tide, you’re likely to find an abandoned hot pool that you can use.

Bring a bucket

It’s also a good idea to bring a bucket. The water from the geothermal hot spring may not actually be boiling water, but it sure can feel like it. You can use a bucket to haul cold sea water back to your personal hot tubs. Then, you mix the water so that you warm water that’s the perfect temperature for you to enjoy.

Bring a swimsuit

You’ll want to sit down in your hot spring pool and soak. Maybe you’ll even take a dip in the cold ocean afterwards

Bring flipflops or jandals

The beach can be rocky and hot, so be sure to wear flipflops (aka Jandals).

Bring a towel and change of clothes

Of course you’ll want to dry off and change after soaking in your sandy thermal pool, especially if you’re visiting outside of the summer months.

Bring food and drinks

There are shops and restaurants near Hot Water Beach, but you might want to bring your own food and drinks for convenience and cost-savings.

If you’re coming to Hot Water Beach early in the morning, late at night, or in the winter, bring a warm drink. Even with the hot springs, the beach will feel cold, especially when you step out. You’ll want something to warm up.

In the summer, bring plenty of water and any other drinks you’d like. Be careful not to get dehydrated as you enjoy the hot sun and hot water pools.

Bring sunscreen and a hat

If you’re at Hot Water Beach during the day, protect your skin. In New Zealand, it practically goes without saying: be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat. If these items aren’t on your packing list, they should be!

Bring your camera

The scenery at Hot Water Beach is stunning, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the memories.

What about bringing kids to Hot Water Beach?

I brought my kids to Hot Water Beach and we had an amazing time.

Kids love digging in the sand, so put them to work! They’ll have great fun creating their own natural hot tub on an ocean beach!

Some things to consider when visiting Hot Water Beach with kids:

Bring a shovel for each kid

Parents don’t need me to explain this.

Bring a bucket

Then your kids can haul cool water back to their hot pools.

Bring plenty of water and food. Between the sun and the hot water, it’s very easy to get dehydrated at Hot Water Beach. Lots of snacks will keep everyone happy.

Bring beach toys

If you’re going to stay at the beach for a few hours, your kids will be happy to have some toys to play with, not just the shovels.

Be very aware of the temperature of the water

Water from closest to the thermal vents is the hottest. You might want to dig a bit farther away if you find that the water in your pool is too hot. And put a kid to work hauling cold ocean water back to the pool.

Don’t let your kids wander into the ocean alone

Hot Water Beach is not a safe place for kids to swim. There are big waves and dangerous rip currents. If your kids want to go in the water, go with them and don’t go too far.

Hot Water Beach Accommodation

Hot Water Beach is about two and a half hours from Auckland, so you can make a day trip, as long as you have a rental car. Just allow enough time to enjoy the beach and check the tides in advance so you’ll be there at low tide.

Honestly, I would only do this if it’s your only option. The Coromandel Peninsula is full of so many hidden gems, it’s worth spending time exploring the area.

We stayed at Hot Water Beach, and I would highly recommend that. Staying overnight at this perfect spot gave us more time to enjoy the beach.

Accommodation at Hot Water Beach

You’ll find the Hot Water Beach Bed and Breakfast, Auntie Dawn’s Place, and the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.

Accommodation at Hahei Beach

Hahei Beach is only a ten-minute drive away from Hot Water Beach, so if you have a rental car, Hahei is a great place to stay. You’ll have more options for shopping and eating too.

Accommodations at Tairua

Tairua is a larger town and only a 25 minute drive from Hot Water Beach.

Accommodations at Whitianga

Whitianga is a great base for exploring the Coromandel Peninsula. It is about a 35 minute drive from Hot Water Beach.

Hot Water Beach Restaurants

Hotties Beachfront Eatery

We absolutely loved Hotties. The food was amazing and the location absolutely could not be beat. There’s beachfront fine dining that’s seasonal and spectacular. Or you can grab a cocktail, wine, or beer (and snacks) at the bar.

Hot Waves Cafe

Salads, burgers, sandwiches, muffins, pastries, and more. Of course, there’s great coffee.

There are more places to eat in nearby Hahei, where you can also rent bicycles or take kayak tours.

Where to park at Hot Water Beach

There is limited parking at Hot Water Beach. There are two pay lots where you can use cash or card to pay for parking.

There are a few free parking spaces along the streets, but not many. You will find a 20-minute parking zone for drop-off and pickups, which is helpful if you’re traveling with kids.

Hot Water Beach Car Park

Hot Water Beach Car Park is a “Pay and Display” parking lot near the southern end of the beach. It’s the closest parking to the beach, maybe a five minute walk to the beach.

Taiwawe Car Park

The Taiwawe Car Park is nearby and has cheaper rates. You can use cash or card to pay for parking.

Middle Car Park

The Middle Car Park is near the middle of the beach and is, at least when I’m writing this, free. It’s primarily used by locals, but anyone can park there.

Are there restrooms at Hot Water Beach?

Yes, there are restrooms at Hot Water Beach. There are even outdoor showers so you can wash the sand off before hopping in your car or walking back to your accommodations.

Don’t worry about crowds at Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is so unusual, it attracts a lot of visitors each year. In peak tourist season, it’s going to be busy. However, it’s really not a big deal.

We went during January, the height of summer. Yes, the beach was busy, but we didn’t have any problems at all finding room to make our own personal spa pool.

We actually had fun chatting with other beach-goers and working together to shore up the sandy walls when they started to collapse. It was good community fun. Truly, one of the best parts of traveling is meeting other people, so don’t be shy!

It didn’t seem like most people stayed for the full four hours that the hot water is available, so everyone had plenty of space. We benefited from arriving about mid-way through the time window and getting to use a pool abandoned by earlier visitors.

And, when it wasn’t low tide, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. We were able to walk in the beautiful surroundings with practically no one else there.

How to avoid crowds at Hot Water Beach

If you don’t want to be among the crowds of visitors, here are some tips for avoiding crowds at Hot Water Beach.

Don’t go in the Summer

In the winter or during shoulder season, there will be fewer visitors, and you’ll have more space to spread out. Also, if you go in the winter, soaking in the warm thermal pools will be particularly delightful.

Visit at night

Digging your own hot pool and soaking in the natural springs while the sun sets or the moon rises and the stars twinkle is truly a unique experience. If low tide is in the evening, this is a really cool thing to do. (Bring a flashlight, aka a torch, if you’re staying late!)

Visit early in the morning

On the flip side, greeting the morning sun while relaxing in natural hot pools might be the best way to start your day. Followed, of course, by a flat white at a local cafe. Your options depend on when low tide is, but be open to going at an off-peak time.

Visit on a rainy day

A bit of rain might dampen the number of visitors who turn out, but soaking in your own pool of hot water while cool rain comes down is a fun experience, especially in the summer months.

What to do near Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

Hike to Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is another main attraction of the Coromandel Peninsula and a great place to visit. Cathedral Cove features a natural rock formation, shaped by erosion. Currently you can only see Cathedral Cove by boat.

Lots of visitors go from Hot Water Beach to Cathedral Cove in the same day.

Hot Water Beach is just about a 10-minute drive from Hahei, a 15-minute drive from Cooks Beach, and about a 30-minute drive from Whitianga.

Visit other nearby beaches

There are loads of other gorgeous beaches on the Coromandel. You’ll want to see them all!

Hike Mount Paku

In nearby Tairua, this steep trail has handrails and steps, to help make it accessible. Mt. Paku is a volcanic peak with amazing panoramic views of the Coromandel ranges and the ocean. It’s a fairly quick walk, taking just about half an hour each way.

Hike the Pauanui Trail

For a longer hike, explore the Pauanui Trail near Hikuai. It’s an out-and-back trail along an estuary and usually takes three hours to complete.

All the Best Hot Water Beach Tips

You want to make the most of your visit to Hot Water Beach in New Zealand. So here’s my summary of all the best tips for Hot Water Beach that were mentioned in this article:

Hot Water Beach Top Tips

These best tips for Hot Water Beach will help you make the most of your visit to Hot Water Beach.

  1. Visit during low tide; check the tide schedule before you go
  2. Bring your own shovel
  3. Bring a bucket
  4. Wear a swimsuit
  5. Wear flip-flops or other appropriate footwear
  6. Bring a towel and a change of clothes
  7. Bring sunscreen and a hat
  8. During busy times, go early to find a spot
  9. Go during off-peak times: at sunrise, sunset, evenings, weekdays, and non-summer months
  10. Bring your own food and drinks (including plenty of water)
  11. Rent a surfboard (but only if you’re a good surfer)
  12. Take a guided tour
  13. Beware of the hot water; choose a safe spot to dig
  14. Respect other visitors
  15. Respect the environment
  16. Be aware of children’s safety; the sand is hot and the ocean isn’t safe for kids to swim in
  17. Don’t forget your camera

Final thoughts on visiting Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is one of the most incredible natural spaces I’ve ever visited. The unusual act of creating your own hot spa bath pool on the edge of the ocean was so special and fun!

When I was planning my family’s trip to New Zealand, Hot Water Beach was a non-negotiable destination. I’m so glad we made it part of our New Zealand itinerary. Hot Water Beach will always be one of my favorite memories of New Zealand!

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