One of the best things about visiting somewhere that is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire is that there are plenty of natural wonders to marvel at and geothermal activity to get excited about. One area where you can experience the benefits yourself is at Hot Water Beach which is based on the Coromandel Peninsula and is included in Lonely Planet’s book of the world’s best beaches.
Travelling over from Auckland took a little longer than anticipated as the route that we were meant to take was flooded. As a result, I experienced my first disappointment of the trip as we were unable to go to Cathedral Cove (a beautiful looking beach which has also been the location of a few films). We still had the option when we arrived but the weather wasn’t the greatest and we had no guarantee that we would have made it back to Hot Water Beach in time to make our own hot pool.
Hot Water Beach is best visited two hours either side of low tide as this is when you can dig a hole in the sand which will be filled with hot water. It seemed a little random where the hot water actually was so you had to be careful where you chose. Some of the water was cold, some was far too hot and some was a nice warm temperature but there was no guarantee what would happen where.
We cheated in the end and rather than digging our own hole took one that was being vacated by a family. They had chosen their spot well! One part of the hole was really hot (you felt like you were being burned if you sat on the sand) but this evened out to make the rest of the pool a pleasantly warm temperature. It was certainly very warm compared to the sea!
It was quite a bizarre experience and is the only beach I’ve been to where everyone is more interested in the sand than in the sea. Everyone basking in their hot pools in such close proximity to each other actually reminded me of the monkeys in Japan which make use of the hot pools to stay warm.
As we were leaving the area we also made a stop at Karangahake Gorge in South Coromandel. The gorge is lined with old gold mines and it makes for an interesting short walk. James even saw a couple of glow worms in one of the mines. Most of the time we were travelling in the Coromandel area it was pretty grey and wet so we didn’t see it at it’s best, but some of the landscapes we were travelling through were fantastic so hopefully at some point I’ll get to return to see it in better weather and see Cathedral Cove.