Hot Water Beach

Leaving Auckland, our sights were set on the famous Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.  It took some time to find the right rides in that direction, but we lucked out with a very cool and down-to-earth local who drove us all the way to a very well-run campsite just a stones throw from the beach in question.  The draw of this attraction is precisely what it sounds like.  Throngs of people rent shovels and dig a hole in a region near the shore during low tide to enjoy some hot tub action au natural.  Learning that the evening low tide was at 1:20am, we opted to avoid the crowds and set out digging under the light of a full moon.   Testing out the sand for which parts were the hottest, we decided on a good spot and starting digging.  Elated that we were the only ones out, our excitement quickly waned when a group of young, drunk backpackers turned up.  The motley Euro crew quickly descended on our hole, two girls simply layed down in the pool we had just dug unapologetically as Dan’s shovel nearly grazed their heads.  So much for a romantic night.

Despite the party-crashers, several of the guys helped to make a massive pool.  About a dozen of us sat there under the full moon as hot water bubbled up in various parts, everyone subtly fighting to claim the hot spots.  This ambitious bunch also set out to make a second pool.  40 minutes later none of them could actually lay down inside.  It was unbearably hot.

Finally we snuck off to an earlier hot beach spot we found to create our OWN pool, as originally intended. 10 minutes later we relaxed under a brilliant full moon, in an evenly heated hot pool, with a tasty New Zealand white wine.  Heaven!   Check out our photos:

Cathedral Cove

Not far from Hot Water Beach is another big tourist draw – Cathedral Cove. Just 20 minutes up the coast, the 50 min trail begins from Haihei Beach. Winding through forest with stunning views of the ocean, you pass by Gemstone Bay (great for snorkeling), and Stingray Bay before reaching Cathedral Cove. Here, the masses flock to get photos and selfies in the magnificent arch bending down at the shoreline. It’s easy to see why everyone pays a visit. While crowded, this cove is still big enough for all. Dan suggested I do some yoga poses on the top of a rock amidst the surging water, but it’s much harder than it looks when waves are literally breaking on you. Here’s the only one he managed to “gracefully” capture.

Cathedral Cove Pose

Then it was a few quick hitches back to our campsite at Hot Water Beach.