The Waitomo district is known for being a hub of adventure and activity. With Black Water Rafting, the glowworm caves and a tour of Middle Earth all on offer, it’s hard to imagine that there is much peace and tranquility to be found in such a lively area.
However what most people don’t know is that there are plenty of beautiful beachside towns around Waitomo too, so if you’re looking for some down time above ground, then check out our shortlist of the best seaside locations nearby- some are less than an hour’s drive away.
The tiny west coast village of Marokopa is a true opportunity to escape. Just an hour past the Waitomo caves you can discover the rural lanes and wide beaches- allowing you the chance to enjoy a minibreak away from the hustle and bustle of larger, nearby cities. There are plenty of holiday homes or a camping ground close to the beach for anyone who wants to spend a night in this town.
Of course you can’t take a trip to Marokopa without heading to the famous 35-foot high waterfall. Located in Tawarau Forest, Marokopa Falls is widely-regarded to be one of the most spectacular waterfalls in New Zealand. For anyone who’s determined to embrace the brilliant natural surroundings of tranquil Marokopa, Marokopa Falls is the icing on the cake.
Just south of Marokopa, you’ll find Kiritehere Beach. Whilst the surf is surprisingly good, it’s the fossil-hunting that really draws the crowds. The marine fossils fill the rocks at Kiritehere mean you’ll see sandstones containing fossilized clams, mussels and scallops that are more than 200 million years old. For people or families who need more than simply sunbathing to keep them entertained, Kiritehere is the beach for you!
Kawhia Hot Water Beach:
For a more relaxing experience, Kawhia Hot Water Beach is one of New Zealand’s best-hidden secrets. Kawhia itself is a peaceful seaside town steeped in Maori culture. If you’re lucky enough to be there in February you may be around for the Kawhia Kai Festival, which is a celebration of Maori cuisine, culture and traditions. With a population of just 650 residents, this charming region is an eco-wonderland: you can walk for miles on the isolated Ocean Beach without seeing another footprint in the sand.
Head down to Ocean Beach in Kawhia at low tide and you’ll find the famous hot water springs. Geothermally heated water bubbles up through the black sand creating your very own natural hot water spa. If it’s late in the afternoon that low tide is in, then you will get the added bonus of watching a beautiful sundown as you soak in your sandy spa pool.
Accommodation in this area is easy to come by: there are an abundance of camping grounds, hotels, motels and hostels. For people looking for a little bit of an adrenaline rush whilst they’re in Kawhia, there’s plenty to be tired out by: horse trekking, kayaking and drive-your-own 4-wheel motorbikes to name but a few.
So if you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten track from Waitomo and it’s crazy activities, try one of the neighbouring towns for the perfect combination of beach and surf, peace and quiet, action and adventure.