Our first night on coromandel was spent in a town called Thames. Despite is history as a pioneering dairy town, there’s not much there now. Take advantage of the cheap veggies, especially when avocados are $1 each (60p), and keep driving.
Hot Water Beach
One of the top things to do in New Zealand, Hot Water Beach is a natural wonder you get get stuck into. The beach does what is says on the tin, as volcanic activity heats the water under the sand, making a natural jacuzzi! In a space of less than 30 square meters, the volcanic heat comes close the the surface, varying from lukewarm to more than scalding. The ‘thing to do’ is hire a spade from the local shop and dig yourself a hole, ready for warm lounging. The best way to do it? Come half an hour later than the low-tide rush and jump in an abandoned hole. It’s free and the digging is done. If you get too hot, the sea is more than cold enough to cool you off, or if you wait long enough, the tide will come to you, washing away hard dug holes in a few icy waves.
While you’re in the area, pop along to Hahei. The row of beaches includes famous catherderal cove and forms a marine reserve too. The 45minute walk takes you along the tops of the cliff and then down through the tree to the beach. There are other beaches to visit if you have the time, just be prepared for steep walks up and down from the sand to the hills. Cathedral cove itself is a pretty little beach, known for the rock arch connecting it to the next beach. The archway is high and smooth, cathedral shaped some would say, framing the rocks and stacks scattered around. Stay for as long as you like, either to take a few snaps and go, or to have lunch and spend the afternoon.
By the way… parking is a little difficult on the hilltop where the walks start, as there’s only a doused or so spots at a popular attraction. Get there early or park in town and nab a shuttle up.