While we were hiking the Lake Waikaromoana Great Walk, a young couple from Auckland told us about a secluded hot water beach that was accessible by boat along Lake Tarawera near Rotorua. After some research we found out a track had just opened a few weeks ago that allowed trampers to hike into the Hot Water Beach.
We couldn’t resist finding another hot pool as we loved the one from Coromandel Peninsula so we modified our schedule, booked the campsite and set off for the track!
|Enjoying the hot hot sun|
Just the first 15km of the Tarawera track is released and is rumored to be New Zealand’s next Great Walk. The track was very well marked, with custom signs indicating look-out points and tramping times. The hike followed the edge of Lake Tarawera into Katukutuku Bay, cascading over hills and down to the waters edge into into Te Hinau Bay, passing over Twin Streams cold springs – it reminded me of the Abel Tasman in many ways.
The forest was thick with palm trees and New Zealand Wheki tree fern giving it a very jungle like appearance. After an uphill climb to reach the Rotomahana lookout point, the path descend into Te Rata Bay and after a long 4 hours we finally reached the camp-site with about an hour of sunlight left.
|Beautiful native NZ forest|
We quickly setup the tent and raced towards the water to soak in the hot water pools. The local ‘warden’ gave us a few tips on entering the water as the edge by the sand is quite hot and can usually cause burns on the feet. We gingerly stepped around to the edge of the rock pool and cautiously stepped into the water.
|Enjoying the beach hot pool|
Since it was the end of the day, the water was more lukewarm, but the closer you got to the steaming source, a jolt of burning water would send you backwards. Since it was a bit difficult to regulate the temperature, going from cool to scalding hot, we called it a night and headed for the tent.
|Campsite by the hot water beach lake|
Up early to be the first in the water, we ventured down to the pool and were happy to find the water much hotter, and better regulated than the night before. With the lake calm overnight (as no boats were speeding by) the hot water was trapped in the pool and hot box on the beach.
|Chillin in the hot box on the beach|
After chilling out in the ‘hot box’, we decided to head over to the rocky area as steam had been pouring from there all morning. As we got closer we could see the boiling water pouring out from the rocks into the lake water below. It created the PERFECT combination of hot and cold as it mixed with the lake water. We hung out there for over an hour as we tested the water, getting closer and closer to the hot source.
|Enjoying the hot water pouring from the rocks|
As the morning drew on, we decided to head towards the carpark and make our way back up the track. After chatting with a local at the campsite we learned about another hot pool just off the main path. We were now on the hunt for this new jungle hot pool and as we made our way back up the track – every sign of an aside track sent Jordan off in an exploration. About an hour in we finally found the right path and made our way through the jungle to the hot pool.
|Found the jungle hot pool|
Sure enough we found this cool hot pool in the middle of the woods, but it had been occupied but a large family with kids, so we decided to keep our boots on and just admire from a distance before heading back on the track. Jordan was in need of an extra boost so he grabbed the left over wine and helped himself at the rest stop.
|Jordan enjoying a wine break|
A long, hot 5 hours later we finally made it back to the carpark and be-lined it for the nearest KFC. It has been a tradition since we got to NZ, that after any tramp we do, we get to indulge on something we normally wouldn’t as soon as we get out of the track. Normally we would find the closest fish-n-chips shop, but the last 2 tracks this vacation we’ve hit the KFC in order to satisfy Jordan’s ‘original recipe’ cravings. After 10 mins of debating whether to get the 15pc bucket of chicken, Jordan finally decided against for both the cost ($45!) and the heart attack risk 😛 After some long days on the track, we feel we earned it – guilt free 🙂