The Best of New Zealand’s Hot Springs

In a country created by tectonic activity, a land of volcanoes and geothermal hotspots, it’s not a case of whether you should visit a hot spring, rather a quandary over which to choose. North Island has more than South, but waiariki, as the Maori call them, are scattered liberally throughout the country so there is bound to be one near to where you’re staying. From full blown resorts like Hanmer Springs to secluded Kaitoke Hot Springs deep in the forest on Great Barrier Island, there’s a hot spring to suit everyone. Here’s my pick of the best.

Best New Zealand Hot Springs

1. Franz Josef

Best New Zealand Hot Springs: After a long hike on Franz Josef Glacier, where better to head than a hot pool?
After a long hike, where better to head than a hot pool?

After a long day hiking on Franz Josef glacier, there’s nothing better than to soak your aching muscles in the hot springs in the centre of Franz Josef town. The Glacier Hot Pools complex is beautifully landscaped within dense rainforest. Choose from three public pools with temperatures ranging from 36°C to 40°C: Te Puna Mahaki, the pool of calmness, Te Puna Makoha, the pool of tranquility and Te Puna Marino, the pool of serenity. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can even splash out on your own private pool for a romantic soak à deux.

2. Te Aroha

Best New Zealand Hot Springs: Cadman Bath House
Cadman Bath House by Ulrich Lange / CC BY-SA 3.0

Bathe as the Edwardians did in the mineral spas at Te Aroha. The waters here are rich in soda and, as bathing is private, you can mix the water to your preferred temperature just as you would at home. Patrons can choose to bathe in wooden tubs or slipper baths, with a friend or in a group, with bubbles or without. Te Aroha has its own spa offering a range of treatments including relaxing massages and facials, making this the perfect stop if your body’s suffering from the effects of prolonged travel. While you’re in the area, check out the Cadman Bath House, now a museum, opened in 1898.

3. Hot Water Beach

Best New Zealand Hot Springs: Excavations on Hot Water Beach
Excavations on Hot Water Beach by Steve & Jem Copley / CC 2.0

Fancy spa not your thing? If you head to Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel, you can dig your own hot pool on the beach. With temperatures reaching scalding point in places, you’ll need to dip a toe in before you jump. It’s not difficult to get the water just right, however, and you’ll find the place busy a couple of hours either side of low tide when the beach is accessible.

4. Rotorua

Best New Zealand Hot Springs: Geothermal activity in Rotorua creates boiling mud pools as well as hot springs
Geothermal activity in Rotorua creates boiling mud pools as well as hot springs

There’s no shortage of hot springs in and around the town of Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s most active geothermal areas. You’ll be spoilt for choice trying to decide but a good place to begin is the famous Polynesian Spa. Four shallow pools with temperatures ranging from 36°C to 42 °C overlook Lake Rotorua, for the ultimate spa with a view. Savvy budget travellers will head instead for Butcher’s Pool on the road to Taupo. It isn’t a luxury experience by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s clean, has changing rooms and, best of all, it’s free.

Have you been to any of the best New Zealand hot springs? How was your experience?

About JuliaHammond


Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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