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Hot Water Beach
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrUnderground hot springs filter up through the sand to give Hot Water Beach its name. A popular destination for both locals and tourists, water and gas flow up through the sand below the high tide mark, making it a perfect place to dig a pool, relax and enjoy the hot thermal waters.
GeographyHot Water Beach is located in Mercury Bay on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. The area has long been inhabited by indigenous Maori, namely the Ngati Hei tribe, and ancient Maori pa (fortress) sites can still be found. There are numerous areas with natural thermal hot springs around New Zealand, however Hot Water Beach is unique in that you can dig your own pool in the sand just meters from the stunning Pacific Ocean and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and waves crashing in front of your very own self-made hot pool.
GeologyThe natural hot springs are created by two underground fissures which naturally pump hot water up through the sand. Although volcanic activity is no longer prevalent on the Coromandel Peninsula, the hot mineral pools are a legacy of an exciting geothermal past. The water contains large amounts of salt, as well as lithium, potassium, fluorine, calcium, magnesium, bromine and silica. All of these minerals have health benefits, for example the magnesium in the water helps to convert blood sugar to energy and helps with skin health.
Make your own hot pool!Within two hours, either side of low tide, it is possible to dig into the golden sand allowing hot water to escape to the surface, forming a hot water pool. Temperatures can reach 64 degrees Celsius (64 °C), but mostly the water is temperate and perfect for soaking in. Bring your own spade, or you can hire them from the surf shop nearby, Hotties Cafe, Hot Water Beach Cafe and the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.
Because the hot springs are only accessible at low tide, be sure to plan the timing of your visit. Tide times can be found online at http://www.thecoromandel.com/new-zealand/tide-times/. The hot water is constant year-round, so you can visit and dig a pool at the beach even in winter.
SafetyDue to the springs' location close to the sea, it is easy to be caught unaware by the sometimes large breaking waves. The beach has some dangerous rip currents and holes, so remain alert. Swimming is not advised within 50 meters of the off-shore rocks, and is only recommended between the flags when the lifeguard service is on patrol. Only strong swimmers should enter the water.
SurfingHot Water Beach is a great location for surfers, from beginners to advanced, with often gentle swells coming in from the Pacific Ocean. Boards can be hired from the nearby Top 10 Holiday Park. For up to date surf conditions, check out http://www.surf2surf.com/reports/hot-water-beach. Whangapoua and Kuaotunu to the north, and Whangamata to the south, also offer great locations for surfers.
Boat CruisesTo experience the wider Mercury Bay and other stunning parts of the Coromandel coastline, hit the water with a scenic boat cruise. Watch marine life up close, or even snorkel the pristine marine reserve with the Glass Bottom Boat, explore volcanic coastline and venture underground into the spectacular blowhole with the Hahei Explorer, or cruise the coast in comfort with Ocean Leopard Tour's purpose-built tour boat. All trips also visit the famous Cathedral Cove.
HikingThe nearby Tarawera Trail provides a beautiful snapshot of native bush along the coastal area. The track winds its way from Te Waiora to Hot Water Beach Campsite, where you can stay the night, or pre-book a water taxi to The Landing. The trail takes around five to six hours, and is recommended for experienced hikers with a good level of fitness.
Getting thereHot Water Beach lies about 30 minutes drive south east of Whitianga . From Whitianga follow State Highway 24 south for around 25 kilometers, then turn left onto Hot Water Beach Road and follow it for eight kilometers until you reach the beach. Nearby Cathedral Cove is only five minutes drive north from Hot Water Beach. Auckland is the nearest international airport. From Auckland, Hot Water beach takes just over two hours via car (traffic permitting).
AccommodationAccommodation is available at the nearby Hot Water Beach Campsite (run by the Department of Conservation), or at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. Sites are extremely popular during the summer months, so be sure to book ahead. Bookings for the Hot Water Beach Campsite can be made online at http://www.whakarewarewa.com/Tarawera/Hot+Water+Beach+-+Campground.html and for the Top 10 Park at http://book.seekom.com/front-booking/book/hotwater92.
Further informationFor further information on Hot Water Beach and the Coromandel region, visit the i-SITE Visitor Center on Mary Street in nearby Thames. The center is open daily.
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Author: Amanda. Last updated: Mar 16, 2016