A Travel Guide to Thermal Pools at New Zealand's Hot Water Beaches
Updated: May 22
Why is the water hot at Hot Water Beach...
New Zealand has many volcanoes. In some locations, environmental water is heated when it comes in contact with volcanic activity. Kawhia Hot Water Beach and Hot Water Beach Coromandal are located in New Zealand's upper North Island, on the remnants of an inactive volcano. Where, despite 100 000s of years of inactivity, heat remains close to the surface, and when the tide is low a warm seawater spring is exposed.
How do I dig a thermal pool ...
Visit Coromandal or Kawhia within 2 hours of low tide. Go below the hightide mark, at the indicated digging location, and feel around for heat in the sand. (See our digging location maps: Kawhia and Whitianga ) Dig a hole in the sand and it will naturally fill with thermally heated seawater. A spade or some sort of digging implement will make a bigger spa bath. You can control the temperature by introducing the cooler seawater or digging deeper to get more heat. Eventually, the tide will rise and inundate all the pools.
Kawhia Hot Water Beach
Kawhia Hot Water Beach is located 10 minutes from the small town of Kawhia, on the West Coast of the North Island, New Zealand. This is New Zealand's lesser-known hot water beach so you can expect, comparatively, a lot of space and a backcountry feel.
Maori settled in Kawhia, many hundreds of years ago, today you will find a traditional community centre known as a Marae. The town also serves the farming community and is a popular base for fishing. Tourist accommodation is a little sparse but you will find some nice options on Airbnb or try the Kawhia Camping ground. The food scene is highly rated with a traditional Fish and Chip shop and the Kawhia Boating & Anglers Club opens its restaurant to the public.
Like many of the west coast beaches, the sand is black iron sand and becomes very hot in the summer sunshine. Take care if you enter the ocean as there is no lifeguard. Despite the backcountry location Kawhia is only 40 minutes from the world-renowned Waitomo Caves and can be included in a Waitomo Itinerary.
Where to Digg:
Drive to the end of Te Puia Rd, Kawhia, and park in the car park. A level of fitness is required as access to the beach is a 10-minute walk over sand dunes. A path comes directly off the car park. The digging spot is more or less in front of the seaward end of the path. Or, with the right vehicle and driver experience access is a drive along the beach from Kawhia township.
You will need sturdy footwear. One reason is to negotiate the dunes and the other is the sun heats the black sand to boiling point. The nearest shop is a drive away so bring food and drink.
Hot Water Beach Coromandel
Hot Water Beach is an attraction on the Coromandel Peninsular. The Coromandel region lies on the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island and is about 2 hours from Auckland. Hot Water Beach is one of the many white-sand beaches that makes the Peninsular a popular holiday destination. Whitianga is the closest centre and has a range of amenities including a hospitality scene. Hot Water Beach accommodation options include a Top 10 Holiday Park minutes away. Also, there are cafes and shops at the beach. A spade or something to dig with makes a better spa pool. Pack your lunch if you want to avoid steep café prices.
Where to Dig:
Take 'Hot Water Beach Rd' to one of the two digging locations marked on the map. I recommend the low tide spring with parking in the adjacent car park. Access is relatively easy with the digging locations only a short distance from the car parks. This beach can be very crowded during peak times.
What are the Weather and Coastal Conditions at Hot Water Beach
Please take care while swimming at New Zealand beaches. There are rips and wave action that take people out of their depth with dire consequences. The safest option is to swim on beaches patrolled by lifeguards. Coromandel Hot Water Beach has a lifeguard and beachgoers can swim between the flags at advertised times. Kawhia Hot Water beach is unpatrolled so if you enter the water please take care.
Kawhia Tide Times
Kawhia and Whitianga hot water beaches are in the Upper North Island of New Zealand. During the summer months, the average coastal high is 26 degrees C with temperatures hitting the 30s on occasion. However, the weather can be changeable with periods of wind and rain in summer. One thing is for sure, the New Zealand sun is strong and protection is required so pack your hats, sunglasses, sunblock and footwear for projection from the hot sand.
The winter average high is between 12 and 16 degrees C and the overnight low can drop to zero. Beaches are often lashed by storms in the winter. However, it's still fun to visit a Hot Water Beach during the winter. A sunny winter's day makes digging in the warm sand fun and you will have warm fingers. toes and soul. In fact, visiting a Hot Water Beach is a great thing to do in winter.