Land of volcanoes and geothermal hot spots, Aotearoa's geographic history has truly blessed us with the best. With an abundance of natural hot pools across both the North and South Island, here at Urban List, we’ve accumulated the finest thermal retreats to lure even the coldest of souls.
Hit up this list consider your getaways in the cooler months sorted. Here is where to find the best natural hot pools in New Zealand.
Onsen Hot Pools
Overlooking the Shotover River alongside spectacular alpine views, Onsen Hot Pools is the perfect break from the action-packed thriller that is Queenstown. Incredibly beautiful, luxurious and romantic–enjoy a private cedar-lined hot pool, featuring retracting picture windows designed to transcend your setting from indoors to outdoors, at the touch of a single button. Most popular at evenings and sunset, Onsen also offers packages from the likes of aromatherapy burners to complimentary glasses of bubbly–adding a lil’ extra to an already promising experience.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools
With more than 15 outdoor pools, spas and waterslides on offer, Hanmer Springs is New Zealand's largest thermal pools. You find this picturesque spot just 90-minutes from Christchurch, tucked away in the South Island high country. Prepare to relax because the benefits of natural mineral waters and crisp Southern air are at your fingertips and a slew of spa treatments are available. However, if you're a big kid at heart, take to the waterslides and put your adrenaline to the test.
Hot Water Beach
In true Kiwi spirit, you can now bring a shovel and dig up your own natural hot pool. Scour the stretch of Hot Water Beach, for the best ocean-side spot and dig away to your heart’s content—now that’s what we call #DIY. Best visited two hours either side of low tide, locals recommend an early get-up to witness a serene Coro sunrise, while also beating the oncoming crowd.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Nestled in the geothermal capital of the world Rotorua, Wai-O-Tapu is where streams of hot thermal and cold freshwater collide. The result? Nature’s perfect blend of heat for whether you’re wanting to take a dip, or simply kick back and relax. This hidden sanctuary is where you can lose yourself in the breeze of nearby trees, bird calls and cicadas while soaking your worries away in thermal waters.
Treat yourself to a gentle (FREE) massage under the waterfall, or soak in the geothermal hot pools as you watch the crystal-clear waters of the mighty Waikato River race you by. Located amidst the wonders of Taupo’s Spa Park, Otumuheke Stream is only about an easy 25-minute walk from Taupo town centre. Lucky enough, you may also come across a lesser-known hot spring nestled mid-point along the waterfront–lookout for steam near the shore, where you may find spots of warm water to bathe in, but shhh...it’s even a secret to some locals.
One of Hamilton and Waikato’s acclaimed hidden gems, Kawhia Springs offers the likes of Hot Water Beach, where low-tide welcomes you to clamber over sand dunes, find a spot on the beach, and start digging your very own natural hot pool–with magnificent views to match. Rich in Maori heritage and an untouched essence of nature–the tranquil beachside town, home of Kawhia Springs, offers the ultimate getaway for visitors and locals alike.
Kaitoke Hot Springs
Great Barrier Island
Right off the shore of Auckland, Kaitoke Hot Springs on Great Barrier Island is simply a ferry away. Begin at Kaitoke Hot Springs Track, where you’ll wander through beautifully lush New Zealand bush along the edge of the Kaitoke Swamp, and crossing the Kaitoke Stream. Dammed at a fork in the Kaitoke Creek, among low-hanging trees and smooth rock clusters, you’ll find a series of shallow hot pools awaiting your stay.
Kerosene Creek and Mud Pool
Perhaps one of the most popular hot pools in the North Island, Kerosene Creek is well worth the mission (read: adventure) to get there. Enjoy a thermal swim that will ease away your aches and pains, while totally immersed in the surroundings of Mother Nature–a true Zen experience. This naturally formed hot pool sits next to a waterfall of cascading of thermal water, also featuring a corrugated iron changing shed–a little piece of good ol’ Kiwiana.
Rotorua is truly a geothermal wonderland, and the The Polynesian Spa is just another reason why. If you're wanting to elevate your hot pool experience a visit to this spa is a must. With two hot springs feeding a mind-boggling 28 mineral pools all you'll be required to do is sit back, relax and let the calming waters sooth your soul. If you're in need of more pampering there are options from massages and facials to spa treatments which means you're guaranteed to leave this retreat feeling on top of the world.
Maruia Hot Springs
Lewis Pass Highway
Located amongst the scenic beauty of Lewis Pass National Park, this thermal eco-wellness spot is the ultimate South Island retreat. Immerse yourself in another world as you relax in nature’s very own sanctuary, with breathtaking views of the neighbouring Southern Alps and sounds of the nearby river passing. Maruia Hot Springs is truly an embodiment of mind, body and soul, as you find yourself placed at ease by the gentle thermal waters, soft steam and soothing aromas.
Palm Springs Geothermal Pools
If you're after a little adults-only fun, just 45 minutes out of Auckland resides Palm Springs Geothermal Pools. The water is naturally heated underground before being brought to the surface for your basking pleasure. From romantic rock pools to larger pools for lounging and playing, you'll warm your bones in toasty 38-40 degree water, bliss.
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Image credit: Onsen Hot Pools, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Polynesian Spa