The Coromandel is an area east/southeast of Auckland, and towards the top of the region, you'll find some stunning beaches, coves, and walks. The Kiwi Experience bus dropped us off at the top of a few beaches.
It's then a 35-minute walk down to Cathedral Cove through forests and hillside before eventually hitting the beach.
If the weather is good, there’s kayaking, and of course swimming and gorgeous walks all over. Taking the Kiwi Experience bus on its current timetable doesn't allow for these activities in this short afternoon hike, so either stay another day, or revisit this area in your own time.
It turned out to be my favorite place in all of New Zealand. This is Cathedral Cove, which is filled with about a foot of water at high tide.
Initially, the weather wasn’t great, but it suddenly turned into clear skies.
I could have easily stayed the entire day, but we had to time it just right for Hot Water Beach at low tide. It’s rated one of the world’s top 10 beaches by Lonely Planet, for good reason.
Hot Water Beach was a quick 10-minute walk from our accommodation at the Holiday Park.
Low tide at 4:15pm allows space along the shore to dig holes for hot pools. Basically, you grab a spade from the reception desk, walk to the beach, dig a hole, and very quickly, steam and scorching hot water emerges.
Mixing cold water from the ocean is essential as simply standing in the hot sand was too much for most of us.
My group dug around a large group in hopes of finding more pockets of steam, but one inch outside of the thermal path, and it’s all cold water, so get there early.
Don't forget about enjoying the rest of the beach and be sure to walk the shoreline at dusk, when the sea-foam and sun form a beautiful golden mist.
We stayed at a clean, beautiful camping area that accommodates camper vans, has a variety of huts and larger bungalows at Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. Sheep were grazing nearby, and it was an easy walk to the water. I'd recommend it but will say that my particular bed was very uncomfortable.
Stingray Bay is in this area as well, so if you have time, it’s worth making your way through other paths to nearby beaches. Next stop on the Kiwi Experience is a tubing adventure in the Waitomo Water Caves. If you're doing this by car, check out the caves, but know that there's no town to speak of in that area.
Places worth visiting in Coromandel Bay:
Grocery store for supplies. There are some essentials (Magnum ice cream bars) at the park, but prepare to bring some food.
Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park for a really picturesque camping atmosphere.
Cathedral Cove, Stingray Bay for some fun beach action.
Hot Water Beach for the walk. Don't get too caught up in the digging to forget that stroll through the sand.