Hot Water Beach & Cathedral Cove

The most popular attractions here in the Cormandel area are Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. We knew about both when we decided to take this job. After being here just over a month we felt it was time to check it out. The only reason backpackers seem to stay here is to go to both of these destinations, so we were beginning to feel left out.

Two of our coworkers, a couple from the Czech Republic, were moving on in a day so we figured there was no better time. The five of us split the cost of renting the car here at The Anchor Lodge and we were on our way! It was a sunny Friday, perfect for hiking and lounging on the beach. I did the driving, which I prefer, through the winding roads in the hills. Driving here can be sooo dicey. We had to pass through the mountains to get to the opposite coast where the beaches were. The roads are barely wide enough for two cars to fit through, one side walled off by a cliff (“beware of falling rocks”) the other a drop off without a guardrail. We made it to Hot Water Beach just in time for some rain, but showers don’t tend to last long here in NZ. When the rain subsided we were on our way with shovels in hand! What makes Hot Water Beach hot is a hot spring located under the beach. The warm water bubbles up and if you dig a hole on the beach the hole will fill with very hot water. Some spots are warmer than others. We found a spot that was too hot to even touch with your feet. David got cozy in a hole and covered himself in warm sand. The beach was crowded, mostly because the area where the warm water is is somewhat small. I’m sure in the summer it’s almost impossible to find a spot for yourself. After a few of us were all pruney it was time to head to Cathedral Cove.

The two beaches are only 20 minutes apart so it was a quick drive over. In order to get to the cove you have to go on a quick 45 min walk. On our way there we found ourselves in a clearing where a few hundred saplings had been planted for a WWII memorial. Through the opening you can see a cliff that overlooks the ocean with a small semi-worn-out trial. Before we could decide if we would put in the extra mileage David was already sprinting towards the precipice. We all followed suit. The view was rewarding as we stood inches from our demise. We resumed our joinery toward the cove after admiring the view and fighting our fear of heights. The view from the cove is breath taking. It’s almost like an amusement park created by Mother Nature herself. There’s a smooth cut out in the cliff perfect for sitting and watching the waves caress the beach, a small cave occupied by families of crabs, water propelling itself from the cliff above, a large archway welcoming you to the other half of the beach where the Cathedral shaped pillar awaits. Words can’t quite describe the views, so I’ll post as many pictures below as I can.

We had a fantastic day together. It was also nice getting out and seeing new views again, it has prompted us to begin our search for our next location. Also worth noting: we decided that at the end of our year in NZ we’ll continue our journey around the world before we head back to the states. It only makes sense, it’ll be cheaper and our view of the world has changed. We’ve started to feel like the world is something you can conquer. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.

Ethan M.

One thought on “Hot Water Beach & Cathedral Cove

  1. Hi! Your descriptions are outstanding! I feel transported into your journey with your descriptions and narratives of people and places. The photos are amazing. It’s a very interesting and beautiful country. Thanks for sharing! Jeanie


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