On our recent summer trip to Australia and New Zealand, we saved the best for last. After visiting Sydney, Hobbiton, Taupo and Rotorua (Part 1 and Part 2), we made our way to the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand. I had been drooling over photos of Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove for months, and we were finally going to see these beauties in person.
Hot Water Beach
After the hairy drive to the area, we dropped our stuff at the nearby campground and drove to the parking lot of Hot Water Beach. Sure, it was cold and rainy. But, still wanted to dig a hot tub at the beach right away since it was low tide.
This is the weather we were dealing with:
We walked on the sand to the left of the parking lot and made our way to the rock. We could see steam coming up from the sand. With our spades we rented from the campground, we started digging our own hot tub. It was hard work!
We hadn’t been at it that long when a nice Kiwi family offered us their hot tub that was already built. They had inherited it from another family and were now passing it along to us. This is definitely the way to go! The water felt great. It was just the perfect temperature. We could have stayed in it all afternoon!
Soon, the rain started to come down harder. We decided to throw in the towel and head back to the campground. After getting out of our hot tub, we were freezing!
We returned to Hot Water Beach the next afternoon when the weather was a little better. It was a Friday, and shortly after we arrived a big tour bus from Auckland pulled up. The crowd of people definitely changed the vibe of the beach.
This time, we tried to dig our own hot tub. But everywhere we dug the water was either too hot or too cold. We sat in a lukewarm tub for a while before giving up. If we could have only combined our first-day hot tub with the second-day weather, Hot Water Beach would have been perfect!
On Friday morning, we got an early start to Cathedral Cove. We arrived in the parking lot around 8:15 a.m. We were greeted by a cloudy sunrise along the water.
Locals describe the 45-minute hike to Cathedral Cove as “easy”, but I beg to differ. Sure, the path is paved. But, it is very hilly. I felt like I got a great workout.
At that time in the morning, the path was deserted. We ran into two groups on their way back, and of course we recognized them from the campground since that’s where everyone stayed.
The final part of the path includes stairs down to the beach. Because of the angle of the stairs, you can’t see the arch until you hit the sand and turn to your left. And there it is!
For about 10-15 minutes, we were the only ones at Cathedral Cove. To be honest, it was spectacular to be there with nobody else.
I loved being inside the arch and listening to the sound of the waves.
The beach had some large trees and rocks that my kids played on, but I stayed by the arch.
Soon, another couple of hikers arrived. So for another 10-15 minutes, it was just us and them. But then more and more hikers showed up. A tour bus from Auckland had arrived.
We decided to head back up the path. On the way back, we took two marked detours that included a lot of steps. I didn’t think the extra paths were worth the views, so I recommend just sticking to the main path.
I am so glad we were able to fit Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove into our travel plans while in New Zealand. Both were lovely and spectacular in different ways. There is so much beauty all over this great, big world.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.