A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of our best hot pools. The thermal water coming up from underground will invigorate your skin, free your mind and leave you feeling refreshed.
If you’ve ever been to a Japanese onsen (i love them) then you’ll know what to expect. While not quite on the same level as our Japanese counterparts, our kiwi hot pools (or more commonly called hot springs) do offer a few hours of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Without further a do, here is my round up of 7 best hot pools in New Zealand. There are of course many more and if you’re hiking in the South Island you might even find your own, free hot pool on the side of the mountain!
1. Hot Water Beach NZ
What better way to start than with hot water beach, a famous beach that nearly every kiwi knows about and every traveller wants to know about. Accessible 2 hours either side of low tide you did your own pool and wait for it to fill with hot water!
After all that hard work, you’ll certainly enjoy the final result, hot water while chilling on the beach. Be careful as some areas on the beach will be very hot! Given you have to dig yourself there’s no entry fee and you can rent a spade for $5-10 from local stalls.
Getting there: Hot Water Beach is a beach on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand, approximately 12km south east of Whitianga, and approximately 175 kilometres from Auckland.
Reason to go: Where else can you do this in the world?.
2. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
If the beach isn’t your thing then the most famous thermal pools spa and resort is located in Hamner Springs, a place to escape and relax for a few hours. The springs feature a range of pools including rock pools, sulphur pools, water jets and bubble pools plus private pools, sauna and steam rooms too.
It’s a great location for all the family including the kids with an activity pool lazy river, water slides, lap pool picnic area and cafe. If you’re visiting the South Island this is definitely a place you should checkout.
Entry fee is $24 per adult, $12 for children (under 3 free) and valid for one day. An extra $4 entitles you to multiple entry on the same day. If you want to use the water slides you need to pay extra ($10). Private pools available starting from $32/hour. Concessions, towel rental and spectator fees vary so refer to the website for more.
Getting there: 42 Amuri Ave, Hanmer Springs 7334. It’s roughly a 2 hour drive from Christchurch or Kaikoura. During peak season allow an extra 60 minutes.
Reason to go: Best Hot Pools NZ.
3. Tekapo Springs (Lake Tekapo)
Tekapo Springs offers three tiered hot pools landscaped in local greywacke rock and surrounded by the regions native alpine plants to create a natural setting. Pool temperatures range from 36 – 40 degrees Celsius. The pools have seating so you can sit back, relax and soak. The Hot Pools are open from 10am – 9pm daily.
Each pool is shaped in the image of the regions lakes (Ohau, Pukaki and Tekapo). Each pool covers 40 square metres of surface area and is up to a metre deep.
The pools take advantage of the wonderful views looking out over Lake Tekapo and the Two Thumb mountain range. If hot pools aren’t your thing they also have an ice skating rink (one of the largest in the country), day spa and water slide.
Getting there: 3 hours from Chirstchucrch. If you’re driving from Christchurch to Queenstown this is a perfect stop off (and cooling off).
Reason to go: Best hot pools with kids activities.
4. Waikite Valley Thermal Pools
Rotorua’s Waikite Valley Thermal Pools (7 days 10am – 9pm) is a natural thermal bathing complex. Water for their pools comes straight out of the Te Manaroa natural boiling spring, and is then cooled before entering (and exiting) the pools.
They offer a wide range of pools including the settlers pool which first opened in 1972 and the passive bathing pool where temperatures reach 35-38 degrees. There’s also the garden pool, hot tubs, private pools (extra fees) and Pergola covered pool.
The views from Waikite Valley pools are fabulous and you can definitely spend an hour or two enjoying the surroundings before changing in their recently refurbished facilities.
Prices are $16.50 for adults and $9 for children. Kids under 5 are free and concession fees available (see website). Private pools can be rented from $40 for 40 minutes for 2 people. You can also upgrade to their spa plus offer at $27 per person.
Getting there: Waikite Valley Thermal Pools are just a 30-minute drive from Rotorua and 45 minutes from Taupo. You’ll need your own transport or can book day tours including this hot pool from Rotorua Tourism Office.
Reason to go: Best hot pool with a view.
5. WAI-O-TAPU / The Bridge (Rotorua)
Rotorua is a hot bed of geyser and thermal activity and throughout the city you’ll find various hot pools including Waikite Valley Thermal Pools. One of those that’s free is Wai-o-tapu, Maori for The Bridge.
Wai-O-Tapu hot springs can be found under the road bridge next to the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park about 30km south of Rotorua just off State Highway 5. You’ll need to prepare yourself as this place gets rather busy on warm sunny days.
Reason to go: Rotorua’s hidden hot pool.
6. Welcome Flat Hot Pools (Fox Glacier)
One of the most remote hot pools to make my list is definitely one of the best and natural hot pools. You’ll need to trek 7 hours to Welcome Flat from the nearest road but with a stunning view of snowcapped mountains it’s definitely worth it.
If you do decide to visit you’ll need to find the start of the Copland Track which is located 26km south of Fox Glacier on State Highway 6. The track is well sign posted and make sure you pack your swim suit, you wouldn’t want to miss out after trekking all that way. You’ll probably have the hot pool all to yourself though so skinny dipping could be a goer.
Reason to go: Best remote hot pool in New Zealand.
7. Tokaanu Thermal Pools (Taupo)
Ask any skier in Lake Taupo where they like to go after a powder session on the slopes and you’ll be surprised to find out that most come to Tokaanu to relax their muscles.
A small village between Turangi and Taupo is Tokaanu (open daily 10am – 9pm) where you’ll find these hot pools, while not as large as those resorts in the South Island they do offer a large bathing pool and smaller private pools.
Prices for adults start at $8 and $12 for a private pool. Kids are $6 and $8. Various concessions are available so be sure to checkout the website before going. I’ve been there many times and definitely a good place to go after a day on the slopes.
Getting there: A few kilometres North-West of Turangi on SH41. Just off the main road in the tiny township of Tokaanu. Look for the steam! If it’s dark look for where all the other cars are turning.
Reason to go: Best Taupo Hot Pools.
Best Hot Pools
There you have 7 of the best hot pools in New Zealand that you should consider stopping off at on your next trip. There is far more across the country, someone even created a website on all the best hot pools so check that out if you want to add some extra activities to your action packed New Zealand holiday.
Are you a local? Share your experiences with our readers.