Hot Water Beach – Tourist Trap or Must See?

Hot Water Beach - tourist trap or must do?

Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

Hot Water Beach is one of the most famous beaches in New Zealand. It is often listed as a guide book ‘must-do’ due to the hot water bubbling through the sand, where if you dig in the right spot you can make your own spa pool right there on the beach!

A crowd of tourists digging their own thermal spas on Hot Water Beach in New Zealand
A cluster of people in the hot spot on the beach

Some planning is required when visiting Hot Water Beach as you should aim to visit two hours either side of low tide if you’re wanting to take advantage of this unique attraction. When we arrived at the beach in the morning, armed with some spades we had borrowed from our accommodation, there was already a coach-load of tourists digging and wallowing in one small area of the beach – some were even sipping champagne while soaking themselves in the natural hot springs!

Hot Water Beach - tourist trap or must do?
Jostling for space at the prime digging location

It’s quite an unusual experience BUT you can’t just dig anywhere on the beach and expect glorious hot water to bubble up through. Although the large group of tourists had shown us where we could find the hot water, there didn’t appear to be many hot spots left for us, and when we did find some potential hot spots, the tide came in and filled the hole we’d dug full of cold sea water much quicker than we could dig!

This is the half of Hot Water Beach that isn't full of tourists digging and lolling around in their beach spas.
The other half of the beach was empty!

Eventually, we kind of muscled our way in and got chatting to a group of American tourists who had found a hot spot but weren’t fast enough to create a little sand barrier wall to stop the cold water rushing in. 6 people are better than 2! So we managed to make ourselves a nice little hot water pool but to be honest by this point I was kind of over it.

Dig your own hot spa at this famous beach on The Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand

So is Hot Water Beach a Tourist Trap or a Must Do Experience?

In my opinion, I would edge towards voting it as a tourist trap. Don’t get me wrong, if you want the quirky experience of digging your own sandy spa and wallowing in a bath on the beach, then by all means check out the low tide times, grab a shovel and get digging! However, if you want a pretty and relaxing beach, then try Hahei or Cathedral Cove. And don’t be disappointed if you don’t manage to find a hot spot!

Top Tips

  • Check out the low tide times.
  • Bring a spade. Or hire one from the beach cafe.
  • Take a waterproof bag too.
  • Be careful because the water can be VERY hot.

Have you been to Hot Water Beach? Did you think it was a tourist trap or a must see?

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2 Comments

  1. It sounds like it would be a fun experience just to learn about it and then experience it for myself! Not necessarily to even sit in the water, maybe soak my feet. Lol!

    1. quirkylittleplanet

      I must admit that by the time we’d dug our hole I was kind of over the idea of having a soak and just sort of knelt so I didn’t get my bum wet!

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