Situated on the massive geological ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, New Zealand is a hot spot for some of the world’s best natural thermal springs. As you road trip through this fantastic country, you’ll be able to sit, splash and simply lounge in a variety of waters, from the free and natural to the high-class resort.
Make sure you bring your ‘togs’ to NZ with you, folks, because you’re going to want to pop into these locations.
Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula
You could almost call this popular seaside area an interactive hot water activity, and here’s why.
Hot Water Beach, on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula (near Whitianga), is where to go in New Zealand if you want to dig your own pool. Yes – you read that correctly! Dig your own pool.
Around two hours either side of low tide, an area of beach is exposed which has bubbling thermal water just beneath its surface. If you dig a hole, build a wall and have a seat, you’ll be immersed in water that can be as hot as 64 degrees Celsius, according to The Coromandel website.
Kerosene Creek, Rotorua
Make sure your New Zealand road trip includes a jaunt past Roto-Vegas (Rotorua, to the uninitiated), arguably the geothermal capital of the country. Aside from all the many natural wonders you can meander past and photograph here, there are also plenty of places to immerse yourself – quite literally – in the waters themselves.
We recommend heading to the splendid Kerosene Creek, about 30 minutes south of the city. This is another natural hot spring, famous for its luminous green setting and pretty little creek.
Thermal water comes up through the ground here and feeds straight into the stream. This then pours down a gorgeous waterfall to fill a calming pond that you can sit in to experience water around 30 degrees Celsius in temperature. Because this area is part of a public forest walk, there is no admission charge.
The name Wai-O-Tapu (Hot n Cold) says it all. Wai-O-Tapu Springs is where streams of hot & cold thermal freshwater collide! Which results in nature’s perfect blend of heat for whether you’re wanting to jump in, or simply sit back and relax. This hidden sanctuary is where you for hours in the breeze of nearby trees, bird calls while soaking your body and thoughts away in thermal waters.
Hanmer Springs, Hanmer
Book your rental car at Christchurch Airport and drive a little under two hours north to the township of Hanmer. Here is where you’ll find one of the country’s most famous, and indeed most favourite, thermal wonderlands: Hanmer Springs.
The water here was once on local mountaintops, but melted and filtered down into an underground reservoir – about 2 kilometres beneath the surface. Here, the Earth’s core can warm it up all nice and toasty, so the folks at Hanmer Springs can draw it up and use to fill an absolute plethora of fantastic pools.
No day trip here is complete without setting foot in every single one of the pools available. Some are heated extra-hot, some contain sulphur to leave your skin feeling all silky, some are larger so you can swim about, and some are cooler so the kids can enjoy a good splash. There are even hydroslides, for that extra excitement!
Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown
If you find yourself exploring the many sights of the South Island’s adventure capital, make sure you pop just up the road to Arthur’s Point (near the Coronet Peak turn off and Shotover Jet). This is where you’ll find one of Queenstown’s most relaxing experiences, in the form of Onsen Hot Pools.
Perched amidst a cliffside forest setting, Onsen’s private rooms look out over the Shotover River Canyon for a truly dramatic southern view. The pools themselves are wooden tubs, with constantly recycled fresh water to keep it fresh and clean. According to the company’s website, it is a mixture of natural spring, rain and lake water.
What’s even better, with the press of a button you can open a huge rolling door that reveals the canyon, making for a unique indoor/outdoor spa experience like few other places here.