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NZ Road Trip: Hot Tub Beach

NZ Road Trip: Hot Tub Beach

Destination Details
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Drive Time

  • 5.5 hours

Tongariro to Whitianga via Highway 1 and 27

This post is a part of our series on our road trip through New Zealand. New to this series? Check out our first post here.

No Rotorua

Yeah I know what you are thinking, “What happened to Rotorua?” Well when we got to Rotorua this morning we had every intention to check out the geothermal features. When we landed in town we hit up the i-Site. There we found out what it was really going to be like. We learned that all of the geothermal features were privately owned and run for profit. They were way overpriced and almost seemed to be weird geothermal amusement parks.

If we hadn’t been to Yellowstone so recently we probably would have check things out, but it didn’t seem worth it, especially given the circumstances. Oh and the crazy stench of rotten eggs (sulfur) filling the entire town, made it a much easier decision.

  • IMG_5400

    The tide quickly coming in flooding the hot tubs

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    Hot tub complete

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    And it is all over

Hot Tubs on the Beach

Instead of Rotura, we made a bee line for the Hot Water Beach (aka Hot Tub Beach) in Waikato. We’d been keeping an eye on the tidal schedule and arrived just in time for low tide. We changed into our swimsuits and head for the beach. Surprisingly, the place was packed with people lounging in their “custom-made” hot tubs, enjoying views of the pacific. We didn’t realize it was BYOS (Bring Your Own Shovel) and didn’t see the ones for rent. I did my best to dig with some plastic containers, but it was like digging a well with toothpicks. Luckily, someone let us borrow their shovel.

Striking the right balance between the boiling hot lava-heated water and the seawater still frigid from winter, was tricky. Either we dug our heels in to keep warm or boiled ourselves like lobsters. We were like Goldilocks and the three hot tubs. We tried digging our own, diverting overflow from other pools, then just commandeered our neighbor’s pool after they left. We weren’t there long before the tide started coming in, but it was one of those unforgettable moments where we could hardly believe we were there. Did we just sit in self-dug natural heated pools of water in New Zealand? It was awesome.

If you get to New Zealand try to fit this into your schedule. Yes there are better views elsewhere in the country and it is a little off the beaten path, but this is an incredible experience, even if you are just there for 30 minutes. Locals and tourists alike flock here, so it can get crowded. Just do yourself a favor and rent a shovel so you don’t have bug someone for theirs.


After leaving the beach we needed a place to crash and shower (sand everywhere). We looked all over and then finally found a reasonable spot in Whitianga called Beachside Resort. It is a lovely little seaside town with lots of restaurants, cafes, and pubs. It apparently is more lively in the summer, but it was quiet and relaxing when we were there in early spring. It was exactly what we needed after a long day.

Keep an eye out for the rest of our posts in this series about our New Zealand Road Trip following us on Feedly.

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