New Zealand’s Most Unusual Beach
By Jacqui Knight
Hot Water Beach is reputed to be one of the world’s top ten beaches.
It has surf, virginal sand, beautiful native forest coming right down to the rocks and sand… and how many beaches in the world can you dig your own “spa pool” with mineral waters?
It’s so refreshing to be sitting in one, and having the tide come in and ‘top it up’ albeit with cool seawater.
WHEN TO GO
All times of the year. The beach is busier in the summer (around Christmas) and spectacular with the scarlet pohutukawa blossom dropping red petals onto the sand.
But at midwinter, it’s stunning, the bush (native forest) is cool and sweet-smelling, there’s wildlife aplenty, and there are fewer people about.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
A bus comes daily from Whitianga to Hot Water Beach, plus Kiwi Experience (look them up on the net) call here too.
You can catch the ferry from Whitianga Wharf to Ferry Landing. Cathedral Cove Shuttles run services from Ferry Landing that will take you to Hot Water Beach.
The hot mineral springs on the beach. Build yourself a spa in the sand and relax. Be careful though, that water is HOT!
BEST ACTIVITY OR GUIDE
There are many things to do in the immediate district: guided bush walks, kayaking, horse trekking – take a look at mercurybay.co.nz or visitor.net.nz. You can also visit with a local Maori bone carver, Jim Taranaki, and he will show you how he carves the special designs out of cow bones.
A wide variety of accommodation here – at Hot Water Beach there’s the luxury B&B, as well as budget accommodations and a beautiful camping ground right beside the lagoon where you can wake up to native birds’ calls.
There are great restaurants in Whitianga.
Sunrises, sunsets, but if you want culture, head to Whitianga – about 40 minutes’ drive away.
Great range of shops, cafes, etc. in Whitianga.
MONEY AND COMMUNICATIONS
$New Zealand – we have EFTPOS cards (debit cards) in 90% of the businesses, so that makes trading easy. We all speak English – and understand foreigners, so it’s easy to get around.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world – there are no dangerous animals here. You can walk quite freely in the bush (native forest). The worst enemy is often ourselves – when we don’t think – like going off into the bush and not telling people where we’re going.
NZ’s climate can go through four seasons in a daytime – especially in the South Island – so some people don’t go out into the bush prepared for every contingency.
Parking at Hot Water Beach
The free car parking area at the main surf car beach park and along the berms next to the pay and display areas.
Free disability car park and free 20-minute short term parking next to the Hot Water Beach shop car park.
Pay and display parking at the Hot Water Beach shop car park is $4 per hour or $25 per day. The Taiwawe (Bull Paddock) car park is $2 per hour or $15 per day. Payments can be made by cash or credit cards.