Five Natural Hot Springs in New Zealand to Visit This Winter
From commercial operations with poolside bar services to free soak holes surrounded by native bush.
New Zealand is literally a hot spot of geothermal activity, though it isn't all boiling mud and spurting geysers. Both the mainland islands and smaller offshore islets are dotted with natural hot springs where you can soak away your worries and apparently work wonders for your body. The mineral-filled pools are credited for boosting circulation, reducing stress and relieving aches and pains. Below you'll find full-blown commercial operations with poolside bar services and hydroslides, plus free soak holes surrounded by cascading waterfalls and native bush.
THE LOST SPRING, WHITIANGA
The geothermal water of The Lost Spring is said to bubble from 667 metres below through a small crack in the bedrock. Legend has it that founder Alan Hopping rediscovered the water source in 1989. The once bare patch of land on the edge of the Coromandel Peninsula now features a swim-in crystal cave and mineral pools between lush native bush ranging from 32 to 41 degrees. With children under 14 banned and a poolside bar service available, it serves as the perfect destination for adults to unwind.
KEROSENE CREEK, ROTORUA
Just over 30 minutes from New Zealand's geothermal wonderland is this natural hot spring where you can bathe right beside a waterfall. Kerosene Creek is heated from a geothermal spring and balanced out by the cool flowing waters of the namesake creek. The water ranges between 30 to 35 degrees and has been billed an effective way to relieve pesky aches and pains. The popular tourist attraction is free to the public — just find a spot in one of the little manmade hot pools and enjoy the serenity.
WELCOME FLAT HOT SPRINGS, FOX GLACIER
This southern alpine region isn't just known for its ancient glacier. During the construction of Copland Track workers stumbled across the natural hot pools at Welcome Flat. The route has since become a popular tourist attraction, with trekkers making the seven-hour journey to bathe in the balmy waters. You'll need intermediate-level hiking experience and at least two days for the experience, which navigates rivers and stunning alpine forest. Accomodation can be arranged in the Welcome Flat DOC Hut.
HANMER SPRINGS THERMAL POOLS AND SPA, CANTERBURY
If you're looking to dip your toes in Canterbury, Hanmer Springs should be your first port of call. Located 90 minutes from Christchurch, the resort features 22 mineral-filled thermal pools, including five connected by a series of waterfalls and another which has beach access. It's not all about marinating in sulphurous pools at Hanmer; thrill-seekers also have the opportunity to launch themselves down the country's largest aquatic ride.
OTUMUHEKE STREAM, TAUPO
The Taupō region is a historical bathing and meeting spot for Māori. The steaming geothermal water of the Otumuheke Stream is certainly the most popular with bathers. Here, visitors can soak beside a waterfall or relax in natural rock pools without worrying about an entry fee. The free attraction was given a significant makeover in 2018, including new changing rooms, lounging platforms and a coffee kiosk. The bathing area is also adjacent to the start of the Huka Trail.
Published on June 17, 2020 by Stephen Heard