Make your own spa at Hot Water Beach (the Ultimate Guide)
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How to make your own spa at Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
New Zealand is full of natural delights just waiting for you to discover. Imagine a beautiful beach with volcanic activity underneath… A beach that reveals hot water running through the sand right next to the beautiful ocean… What if I said that you could go there and dig your own hot water pool to sit in? Just inches from the ocean! Sounds pretty awesome right? This can all be done for free at Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel.
Digging your own geothermal pool in the sand on this spectacular beach is fast becoming one of THE popular things to do in New Zealand on the North Island. The small-town feel of the area coupled with the beautiful scenery (did you know that Cathedral Cove is close-by?) means this little secret could well be an experience of a lifetime!
Only have 30 seconds? ▶︎ Watch this video
There are two geothermal beaches on the North Island of New Zealand. Don’t get it confused with Hot Water Beach in Kawhia, which is over near Hamilton. Kawhia Hot Water Beach is not as popular is Coromandel, and it’s slightly further to get to from Auckland. But, if you are headed towards Hamilton, be sure to check Kawhia Hot Water Beach out!
When to visit Hot Water Beach?
ⓘ Visit Hot Water Beach during low tide
Now, this is essential knowledge. You NEED to come about two hours before low tide or you will miss it! During mid-to-high tide the area where you build the pools is underwater. More on Hot Water Beach tide times just below ⬇︎
ⓘ During the week is the quietest time to visit
That’s not to say that you MUST visit during a weekday. Luckily this beach is still a bit of a local’s secret so it doesn’t get too busy. But if you prefer your space, then this is the time to come. On weekends you get many daytrippers from Auckland as well as families who come to camp in the Coromandel for the weekend.
Photo Credit: The Coromandel
🌊 Hot water beach tides
As mentioned above it is imperative you arrive to begin digging about 2 hours before low tide on Hot Water Beach. So that you don’t have to google when Hot Water Beach low tide is yourself here are a couple of links to sites who are constantly updated with the tide times of Hot Water Beach.
☀ Hot Water Beach weather
The great thing about Hot Water Beach is that even if the weather is horrid, you can still go! In fact, it’s even better when it’s cooler; it makes the warmth of the spa just that much more inviting!
I went on a really cold and stormy day. Freezing rain stung us as soon as we’d exited our campervan. But that didn’t stop us! We had to run from the van to the area of the beach to build our spas. Many people there had already built huge spas that looked sooooo good. We ended up abandoning our dig and jumping in with a family who wasn’t using all of theirs.
What to bring to Hot Water Beach
Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t forget:
- Waterproof camera
- Waterproof your phone with a case (also good to stop the sand getting in it)
- Swimmers and towel
- Bring all the things you would usually take to the beach
- Bring a bucket to pail cold water if your spa is too hot
- Bring a SHOVEL!
Don’t own a shovel? No problem!
You can hire a shovel from right across the road in the Surf Shop across from the carpark (it’s a small place – you’ll see it)! The cost to rent a shovel is $5 NZD (They will also take a $15 deposit, which they give back upon the shovels’ safe return).
Photo Credit: The Coromandel
Spa bath etiquette
Making your own hot spa on Hot Water Beach is a completely different beach experience than usual. Usually, people avoid each other, trying to find their own secluded place on the beach to place their towel, however, on Hot Water Beach, every space is free game.
Unless you’ve been before, chances up you’re not going to be very good at picking a place for your spa. Some sections are either too cold or too hot. You need the perfect amount of hot water running underneath your DIY hot tub. Some people may end up extending another already-built sand-spa, or giving up and just jumping into a stranger’s spa-like we did!
LOVE FREE STUFF? Here’s my list of Complete North Island Itinerary!
☠︎ Dangers at Hot Water Beach
There is a pretty serious rip at Hot Water Beach, which makes swimming at this beach dangerous. Still, lots of people go into the ocean because it gets far too hot just sitting in your pool all day. It is recommended you only go in up to waist deep and always keep your feet on the ground.
Photo credit: Hilligsoe / CC BY
How to get from Auckland to Hot Water Beach
Hot Water Beach is located on the Coromandel Peninsula approximately a two hours’ drive from Auckland. The views and scenery along the way are gorgeous and it’s worth hiring a car for the drive if you don’t have your own.The Coromandel is an isolated area with only a few very winding roads around the coastline and a couple that cross the range and run down its centre.
On the way through the Coromandel, you’ll go through a few small towns that you can stop for coffee in. You’ll also notice freedom camping sites (free campsites for approved vehicles) – if you’re lucky enough to have a campervan. Some of the roads can get quite windy and mountainous so make sure you drive carefully.
There are plenty of fairly priced busses that run between Auckland and Whitianga. There is also a number of accommodation options in Whitianga and some accommodation providers ever run their guests to Hot Water Beach in a shuttle.
There is a 360 Discovery ferry from Auckland to Whitianga and it’s a beautiful trip across the water. Once at Whitianga it is another 33 km to Hot Water Beach. To get to Hotwater Beach, you’ll need to take the shuttle that operates between the ferry port and the local beaches. In the peak summer season, the shuttle operates hourly between the wharf at Ferry Landing through to Hot Water Beach providing a regular connection.
By Shuttle Bus
You can reach Hot Water Beach by bus from all neighbouring cities and towns with three operators coming either into Hot Water Beach or to nearby Whenuakite. Regular connections include Coromandel Town, Whangapoua, Matarangi, Kuaotunu, Whitianga, Hot Water Beach and Hahei.
🛏 Hot Water Beach Accommodation
There are two-holiday parks plus places to get food and drinks and another famous beach nearby; Cathedral Cove. Camping at Hot Water Beach over a couple of days would be the ideal way to get the most out of this magical area.
Hot Water Beach Top 10
This is the holiday park that is the closest to Hot Water Beach. It’s only a 9-minute walk to the beach or a quick drive. Featuring units with a dining area and patio, kitchen plus an on-site restaurant. If cabins are a little out of your budget, why not try hot water beach camping? Unpowered sites start at approximately $23 per night but discounts are offered for seasonal or long stays. This holiday park has powered and unpowered campsites.
Seabreeze Holiday Park
Seabreeze Holiday Park is a bit further away (almost 30 km to be exact) from Hot Water Beach, but it does have mountain views! It also has a playground for the kids, and an on-site restaurant and convenience store. Seabreeze has unpowered campsites from $20 and powered site from $22.
Oceanside Cottage Hot Water Beach
Now, this is a place close to the beach! Boasting room enough for four guests with a large patio and great beach views. In fact, Oceanside Cottage is literally just across the road from Hot Water Beach. However, it’s just one rental apartment found on Airbnb and Booking.com, so get in quick!
Hot Water Beach Freedom Camping
There are a number of free campsites that can be accessed provided you are travelling in an approved campervan. This is called Freedom Camping and it’s a great way to get around New Zealand while minimising the costs.
To find these campsites you can use one of two phone apps. Campermate is free and colour coded by cost so you will never go over budget. However, it’s a little difficult to get used to. Wikicamps NZ is a lot more user-friendly however it costs $2.99 for the download.
WANT MORE? Here’s my Complete North Island Itinerary!
Photo credit: John Englart (Takver) / CC BY-SA
Place: North Island
Country: New Zealand
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
$1 AUD = $1.05 NZD
I was there: September 2016
Have you ever made your own (hot or cold) spa on the beach? Then comment below!