New Zealand rarely fails to impress me and the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island is no exception. If you’re after a day full of outdoor adventure and unique experiences then be sure to work Hahei, just 2 hours and 30 minutes from Auckland, into your itinerary. The two standout attractions for me were Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.
Clear ocean water and white sandy beaches feature in just about every photo of a beach paradise. You can experience such visions of paradise at Cathedral Cove. The best way to appreciate the beauty of this part of the world is on the water. Cathedral Cove Kayak tours operate from Hahei beach and offer half-day and full day tours. No experience is necessary although if you’re lacking with the upper body strength (like me) ocean kayaking can be a little tiring but it is definitely worth it. The tours use two-person kayaks so make sure the strongest person is in the back.
I opted for the Cathedral Cove classic tour which is around 3-3.5 hours and departs twice daily. While I have kayaked before on calm rivers, I found ocean kayaking a little more difficult as you have the waves to battle with. There are multiple points throughout the tour where the guide will reveal some of the Maori history of the coastline and the islands you’re paddling to. About half way through the tour you reach Cathedral Cove for a refreshment stop. It is here on the beach you can rest your arms while they prepare cappuccino and hot chocolates. Its pretty impressive really, how they spread out a towel and pull what they need from their kayak to make the most frothy, chocolatey and delicious hot chocolates I have ever had on the beach. While you’re sipping your delightful brew you can soak in the views because it is one stunning beach! On a perfect summer’s day with not a cloud in the sky, it really is the best way to spend an afternoon.
Once you’re back on the water you continue your ocean tour and head back to Hahei beach where you began. But don’t rest your arms too soon because in the evening you’ll want to head to Hot Water Beach to make your own natural sauna.
Hot Water Beach
I travelled to New Zealand without having the faintest clue that something as amazing as Hot Water Beach existed. For many visitors not used to a lot of geothermal action in their home countries you’ll want to make sure you make time to stop over here for a night.
At low tide (every caravan and accommodation site in the area can tell you what time it is every day) you’ll want to head to the beach with a shovel or a spade. You’ll want to choose a spot close to the shoreline to dig but not too close that the incoming waves will ruin all your work. When you dig hot water below the surface of the sand will rise up creating a natural hot spring and the idea is to be close enough to the shoreline that cool ocean water can help regulate the temperature as the hot water from below can be up to 40 degrees celsius. Now selecting the perfect location to dig can be a bit hit and miss but that’s all part of the fun. The best part about an evening at the beach digging your own hot pool is the community that is created through the activity. Everyone starts out digging their own separate pools with little success but eventually everybody comes together to help each other create several massive communal hot pools. It is a lot of fun and an activity that suits all ages.
The Coromandel Peninsula (like many other regions) is a truly beautiful part of New Zealand that I would highly recommend a visit too if you get the chance. If you partake in the two activities I’ve described above your arms are sure to be in for a decent workout but it your aches will be evidence of the unique and wonderful experience had in this part of the world.