coromandel peninsula: hot water beach and cathedral cove
The drive to Coromandel from Auckland is a great introduction to the beauty of what is New Zealand. While it starts out slow and one begins to wonder what all the hype is about, all doubt disappears after an hour.
The numerous hills of sheep are replaced with views of vegetation that leaves you in awe. The winding roads meander through the valley, offering breathtaking opportunities to see the varied foliage and landscape.
At one point, we turned a corner and both said, “oh wow,” at the same moment. The drive should absolutely be taken at daytime, to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the country.
We finally reached a vista point at the top of a hill, adjacent to a beehive where workers were collecting honey. Devin had his Blackberry out taking pictures of the ocean view, while Ryann was on the watch out for bees. She’s seen My Girl too many times to not be paranoid.
We hopped back in the car and continued towards Cathedral Cove. Once we reached the outskirts of the town center, there were signs posted directing us towards the cove and parking. We parked the car in the shared lot and prepared ourselves for the 30 minute hike.
The hike was easy but definitely not elderly or stroller-friendly, as there were stairs and most of the path is unpaved. A better option for those not up for the hike is a boat ride which can be taken from an adjacent beach town. The hike was alongside the coast and farm land – it was beautiful being able to take in the different scenery. After about 25 minutes, we made it to the wooden steps that descended to the beach and the cove.
We immediately ditched our shoes and walked inside the cove. Cathedral Cove was no misnomer – the high ceilings resembled a church and invited one to shout “hallelujah” and while listening for the echoes. Apparently, many couples opt to get married here, too!
There were some very brave people swimming, but mostly people wandered around taking pictures. One nice couple took a shot of us after our attempt of a selfie just didn’t do justice.
Since we weren’t going swimming and didn’t pack a picnic, there was no sense in hanging around. We turned back to head to Hot Water Beach.
Hot Water Beach
Hot Water Beach was also very close and easy to get to from the town center. The hardest part about Hot Water Beach is deciding whether or not to “hire a spade,” or in American, “rent a shovel,” for $5. We decided to use our toes and soak our feet rather than fully bathe. Tip: Make sure to look up the tidal times because in order to experience the hot water soak, it needs to be at low-tide. Also, many people who dig are willing to share the pools, so it’s not entirely necessary to even bring a shovel, unless you want to accomplish digging your very own private pool.
Devin was the first to “hit hot water.” He showed Ryann where to put her toes and dig, dig, dig. We found that it doesn’t take long for the extremely hot water to reach you, once you find a good spot. We stood, dug and soaked for about 20 minutes. It was fun watching everyone else dig with their hands, shovels or feet and watching the reaction and excitement in their faces upon finding the hot water. I think we heard less “Ooohs,” and more “AAHH!!s,” on this beach than any other.