If you're planning a trip to the North Island, you need to consider swinging by the small coastal town of Kawhia - home to New Zealand's lesser known Hot Water Beach.
We spent the last couple weeks on the road doing some research for Planit NZ. First we spent a week on our North Island hop on hop off bus checking out the stops in preparation for the coming New Zealand summer. After that, we grabbed a car in Auckland and did an express one week trip back to Planit NZ base in Queenstown. First stop after leaving the Big Smoke? Kawhia.
Kawhia is about two hours south of Auckland, and might well be one of New Zealand's best kept secrets.
Kahia is a small village situated on a picturesque harbor of the same name. It's about an hour south of Raglan, but feels entirely different - a piece of New Zealand unaffected by the tourism boom. A quiet town, one that you'd probably not visit had you not read about it here.
Kawhia has a strong Maori heritage, as about 800 years ago the first Maori people to travel to New Zealand arrived here in a giant ocean-going canoe called a waka. This waka stopped at a number of places around the North Island, before ultimately coming to rest at Kawhia. There's a fantastic little museum in the town if you're keen to learn more about the Maori history in the region.
If not, you MUST at least check out Kawhia Hot Water Beach. You've likely read about Coromandel's Hot Water Beach - an area where you can dig a hole in the sand, and be rewarded with a private geothermal heated spa pool. You can get the same result in Kawhia, with the added bonus of far fewer crowds.
Grab a shovel from your accommodation (check out Kawhia Beachside Escape), and head out to Ocean Beach about two hours either side of low tide. Walk up over the dunes, and down to the beach. When the tide is out, you can dig your own personal spa pool that will fill up with geothermic heated water. Sit back, relax and watch the sunset in what must be one of the most incredible hot tubs in the world.