The Coromandel is an area of New Zealand that we could have spent our whole week. It is so beautiful and there is so much to do including Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, New Chums Beach, islands to explore, short, long and overnight hikes, gorges and you can even snorkel! You’ll find a couple of wineries (which we didn’t have time to visit), cafes, a brewery and a macadamia nut farm.
I can completely understand how this is a favourite weekend destination. I was told it is New Zealand’s Great Ocean Road and I think it is worthy of that title.
We were very short of time but we decided that we would like to at least see some of this beautiful part of New Zealand. We made the trek up to Hot Water Beach after visiting Waitomo Caves en route from Taupo. It was over a three hour drive plus a food stop so we were all ready for a run around by the time we made it later in the day.
What you can find in this post
Hot Water Beach
What is Hot Water Beach famous? Well…for two hours either side of low tide you can dig yourself a hole in the sand, which will fill up with hot water. Well, that is what is meant to happen!!! To start with we thought it must have been a great big joke!!!
There were lots of people on the beach when we arrived with lots of holes in the sand. I was excited as I had read that once people leave you can take over their ‘hole’ in the sand to save digging one yourself. We stepped into a few and they were all….cold! There were lots of people walking around asking ‘is this hole hot’??? There was a camera crew filming a show and I think they had a pick of the beach as soon as they jumped out about 20 people hoped in to the hole and relaxed!
Talking to a local we found out that at that particular time there was loads more sand which was causing the low tide to actually be quite high. So, instead of just being able to move your feet around in the sand and feel the hot water you had to either dig quite deep or try a few different areas.
We had fun anyway. We took over a very deep hole which had hot water in the bottom and Olive was happy sitting in there playing for over an hour making sand castles.
It was surprisingly hot though – enough to almost burn your feet.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is anyway to be able to predict the sand level on the beach. Just go prepared to spend a long time digging and if you find a hot spot straight away, bonus!
The kids had a great play on the beach and it was a really relaxed morning.
Your accommodation will be able to provide you with the tide times and the best time to visit the beach. We were also able to hire a shovel from where we stayed at the Top 10. We did see backpackers with saucepans for digging!
Cathedral Cove is another must see on the Coromandel Peninsula.
The car park is closed from the 1st October until the end of April. Even when the carpark is operational I was told finding a park is terrible and was advised to park in town.
We took the bus from the town car park which was $10 return for a family ticket (cash on the bus). The bus takes you to the top of the hill and to the start of the walk. It runs every 20 minutes or so from 9.30am to 6pm.
It wasn’t a hard walk but it was quite undulating with steps at the end. Ned was fine and Olive did pretty well but had a few piggy backs! It took us about 40 minutes each way to walk to the cove.
If you don’t want to walk there is a water taxi from Hahei! Or, you can take a kayaking tour – looked amazing and was on my to do list but unfortunately they wouldn’t take Olive due to her age.
There were lots of people on the beach. It is obviously a tourist hot spot! It was a gorgeous spot though and we highly recommend visiting.
Take water, snacks and a towel if you plan to have a dip.
Shakespeare Lookout and Lonely Bay
Unfortunately it rained, and rained, and rained overnight on our last night. It was still raining when we checked out of the Top 10. We were hoping to fit in the walk to New Chums Beach but it wasn’t to be! We did manage to have a couple of clear bursts between the rain and we checked out Shakespeare Scenic Cliff. Even with the clouds all around we could see the magnificent views around the bay. The Coromandel sure is beautiful.
We also walked down to Lonely Bay for a play on the beach and a rock scramble.
Accommodation on the Coromandel Peninsula
We stayed at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 and it was a fantastic, very new holiday park. The grounds were huge and set amongst amazing scenery.
The park has every sort of accommodation from powered and non-powered sites, funky cabins, backpacker units and lodges for groups.
It also has easy access, straight along a boardwalk to Hot Water Beach.
Facilities at the Hot Water Beach Top 10 include:
- Lots of bathrooms around the grounds
- Full Kitchen
- Jumping pillow
- Fish and chip shop onsite from 5.30-7.30pm. After arriving late we enjoyed the fish and chips. Ned and Olive keep saying fish and chips in a New Zealand accent! The fish and chips were delicious but the potato cakes are much, much better in Australia!
- Shop – selling all your basic needs including frozen meals (there are no grocery shops in Hot Water Beach).
- Shovels for hire
So, there you have it. A very quick trip to explore some of the Coromandel. It was just gorgeous and a place you could definitely dedicate a fair bit of time to exploring.
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