Coromandel: Hot Water Beach
Get There: Jump on State Highway 25 to Whenuakite, where the only significant junction is the road to Cook’s Beach/Cathedral Cove/Hot Water Beach. Hang a right from the main road when you see a sign, and eight kilometres or so later, you will arrive. Be sure to check tide times before you rock up – two hours either side of low tide is ideal.
At a strip of coast on the Coromandel Peninsula – just south of Mercury Bay – instead of freezing your tits off in New Zealand’s icy seas, you can boil. Come low tide, locals and tourists alike flock to the shore at Hot Water Beach to dig holes in the sand. From underground reservoirs, volcanically-heated water (or pure sulphur – whatever it is) seeps in to these holes and pools, creating natural thermal baths.
Being our usual unequipped selves, Olive Yasmar and I brought nothing but our bare hands to dig with, but some kindly Kiwis leant us their shovels. You’ll need at the very least a trowel, because digging is hard work, and you don’t want to get spa envy scratching desperately at the surface next to a family luxuriating in an Olympic-sized pool.
The water is a lot hotter than you will expect – especially in winter, so be careful not to burn your tootsies. We suggest digging your spa near the edge of the ocean so waves of cold can lap in, or bringing a bucket to collect seawater to substitute the heat.