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New Zealand must-do: Hot Water Beach

Nestled in Mercury Bay on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula 12 kilometres south east of Whitianga, Hot Water Beach is named for the natural underground hot springs that filter up through the sand between high and low tide.

Hot Water Beach has become a popular New Zealand attraction for both locals and tourists, with visitors taking advantage of the hot springs flowing beneath the sand by digging ‘spa baths’ along the beach. Once a hole is dug into the sand the hot water fills up the space, leaving you to relax in your own private hot pool as you watch the sun set over the ocean.

The best time to visit is within 2 hours either side of low tide, when the steamy water can be seen bubbling up through the sand. Low tide brings with it high numbers of tourists hoping to find a patch of beach on which to dig their spa, so if you are hoping to avoid the crowds try visiting at sunrise or on a rainy day, the hot water will keep you plenty warm enough in the cooler air! If you are hoping to dig your own pool, be sure to time your visit with low tide as the hot springs are buried underwater at high tide.

Hot Water Beach is a beautiful spot for an ocean swim as well, but stay safe and be sure to swim between the flags. The rocks found along the beach in front of the hot springs pose a significant swimming hazard, with strong currents and rips a daily occurrence.

For the keen surfers out there, Hot Water Beach has an excellent reputation as a great surfing beach (for experienced surfers only). With good size swells, the banks along the beach make for excellent ‘A frame’ waves. The northern end of the beach is a popular local surfing spot, however due to hidden rocks and steep banks it is highly recommended that you head out with a group.

Things to know

  • The water can be extremely hot! Be careful where you stand and make sure your children are aware of the risk.
  • If you need a spade for digging, they are available for hire from Hotties Café, Hot Water Beach Café and the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.
  • There is parking available at three separate locations – the Main Beach carpark, the Main Store carpark and the Te Waiwai carpark.