Every year thousands of vacationers from around the world descend on Hot Water Beach in New Zealand to dig their own hot tub in the sand.
The source of the hot water is an underground spring of geothermally heated water located just feet beneath the sand, right next to the waves. On a regular basis super heated water – up to 150 degrees C in some places – seeps into shallow holes dug across the width of the beach making ideal personal hot tubs.
Accessible only between the two hours before and after low tide, a fifty meter stretch of beach located near impressive cliffs and boulders becomes a frenzied dig site as dozens of shovel armed would be hot tub architects head out to strike it rich. However, Hot Water Beach can be fickle at times. Sometimes pools within several feet of each other have completely different temperatures, and while it’s unlikely, every now and then super heated pools are located next to their tepid counterparts, so arriving promptly before low tide and digging quickly are recommended.
The beach can also get quite crowded on the weekends and during the summer, so arrive on a weekday to avoid the large crowds up from Auckland, unless you want to team up with a few others to enlarge your pool into a hot tub wonderland, which definitely widens your chances of digging a good hot pool.
“Hot spots,” as they’re often called, are readily apparent after digging for just a few minutes, and can be felt with a hand burrowed into the sand. If a pool doesn’t fill with warm or hot water after a few minutes, abandon the site and try another. Don’t waste hours digging a hole that doesn’t work. Within ten minutes (max) the hole will have water welling up into it, and you’ll know if your hot tub has what it takes to satisfy your temperature needs.
Shovels are available for hire for a mere $5 from the local café at the top of the parking lot (with a $20 refundable deposit) for those who don’t normally travel with a trowel. Parking is free and while the surf can be extremely dangerous for swimmers with powerful riptides and currents, the lifeguard staff doubles during low tide to handle the influx of hot tubers that need a dip to cool themselves off.
Hot Water Beach is also renowned for its large surf with a peaking right peeling from the rocks located on the east side of the beach. The localism is fairly minor, and the rides are great.
Food, surf, sand, fun, and naturally occurring hot tubs – Hot Water Beach definitely delivers on its straightforward, super fun claim.