You have never seen grown adults dig in the sand with such vigor and excitement as at the natural hot springs on New Zealand’s Hot Water Beach. Set on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, the aptly named “Hot Water Beach” features a set of natural springs which pump water as hot as 147° to just below the sandy surface. In order to tap into the springs, visitors and locals alike all flock to the long, golden sands with a bevy of buckets, spades and miniature shovels in an effort to create their own personal hot tub in the sand; like young children digging for buried treasure.
In addition to the sense of excitement there is also a notable sense of urgency; the hot springs are only accessible for one hour on either end of the low-tide, and once the cool ocean water begins rushing into your small hot tub it’s time to pack up and head home.
While the idea of strolling down an empty beach, digging for hidden hot springs and bathing in your own personal, oceanfront hot tub sounds romantic and remote, it’s somewhat of an understatement to say that word has gotten out. Crowds can oftentimes push over 100 people, although just as in the days of the western gold rushes, what keeps you digging is the possibility of hitting your own vent and gaining a prime spot in the sand.
Since the twice-daily low tide is constantly shifting you can find tide-calendars and shovels in every convenience store for 10 miles surrounding the hot springs at Hot Water Beach. Oftentimes the second low tide of the day will occur at night, and the sight of dozens of spring-seekers digging in the sand while bathed in the glow of headlamps only adds to the sense of novelty and mystery circulating around Hot Water Beach.