Mercury Bay, Hot Water Beach via Cathedral Cove

Boiling our feet at Hot Water Beach and seeing New Zealand’s version of Halong Bay at Cathedral Cove…

Another early start and back on the next part of our Kiwi Experience bus tour. The tour was so busy that K.E had to put on another bus although it was much smaller! In our early morning state we decided it would be best to get on the smaller bus, quickly realising that a smaller bus meant a small amount of space.  However the empty seats became seats for bags and we settled in for our 2.5 hours drive to Hot Water Beach with our K.E. Driver Mar.

Hot water beach is located at the top along New Zealand’s Pacific coast just south of Mercury Bay. Now the really cool thing about Hot Water Beach is all the hot springs under the ground, a legacy of its volcanic past. Within two hours either side of low tide, you dig into the sand allowing hot water to escape to the surface and form your own hot water pool with the water getting as hot as 64 °C!

The K.E bus are pretty good at stopping at supermarkets and cafes en route so you can pick up food for your trip. It was on this K.E bus that we discovered Warehouse – a mega store that sells everything from clothes to camping gear to the world’s biggest Marshmallows! Little did we know how much we’d rely on Warehouse during our time in New Zealand.

After quickly checking into our accommodation at Water Beach Holiday Park ($30 NZD, dorm) we were back on the bus to Cathedral Cove (20 minute drive). Normally the walk down to the cove would have taken around 40 minutes but a surge in torrential rain whilst on the walk held us up . At one point mud and water gushed down the steps towards us as we tried clambering up. We only had one rain jacket between the three of us… luckily it was mine and my top half stayed relatively dry. I am nice though, and let Sarah and Graeme share my hat.
A bit wet.
A bit wet.
The views were fantastic especially once the rain stopped. On one side we had hilly farm land filled with cows and plush green grass ( the shire) on the other a glimmering blue sea dotted with little islands (new Zealand’s version of Halong bay). The Cove offered a sandy beach and a chance to have a dip!
cathedral cove
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand.
Later that evening we made our way down to hot water beach eager to build our own hot tub or at least jump in someone else’s! However I think the weather and the waves were against us and perhaps the tide wasn’t low enough because no sooner had someone found some hot water and started digging a huge wave would pour in and cool it down. We joined in the Kiwi Experience team effort to create one large pool and a wall to keep the waves out, but it was tough work and we only managed to get it shin deep.

Instead we settled for standing a few feet into the sea, here you could swivel your feet into the sand until you struck hot water! It was amazing how hot the water was in some parts, sometimes it was boiling! So not quite the hot tubs we had imagined but still pretty awesome especially as the waves cascaded around our legs, the hot water warmed our toes and the night sky (no light pollution up here) shone down on us. Yep, pretty magical.

Having our feet bubbling in sea water heated by volcanic activity.

Opting for the cramped kiwi bus, Graeme and I missing out in buying the largest Marshmallows I have even seen! (Sarah wouldn’t let us buy them)

(Feat. Image courtesy of

Published by emmytravels

Writer, journalist and digital marketer. I said 'So Long!' to London this year, went travelling to S.E Asia, New Zealand and ended up staying in Melbourne, Australia.

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