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22 BEST Hot Pools and Hot Springs in New Zealand (North and South Islands)

22 BEST Hot Pools and Hot Springs in New Zealand (North and South Islands)

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I’ve been so lucky to travel a lot of the world and see so much of the great outdoors, but New Zealand never fails to surprise me when it comes to all of the natural beauty. I mean, it’s the reason I moved here in the first place!

New Zealand has some of the best hot pools and hot springs in the world. You’ll find them on both the North and South Islands. However, with so many options, from spa experiences to more laid-back, private soaks, it can be hard to decide where to go. That’s why I’m here! 

I want to shine some light on the 22 best hot pools and hot springs in New Zealand to help make your decision a bit easier. At the very least, you won’t have to do a ton of sifting through different websites right off the bat.

Wherever you choose to visit during your time in New Zealand, I know you’ll love any of the hot spring experiences!  

Hot Pools & Hot Springs on the North Island

1. Rotorua Secret Hot Springs  

Bailey relaxes in the Secret Spot Hot Tubs in Rotorua
Such a relaxing place!
Close up of Bailey in the Secret Spot Hot Tubs in Rotorua
I love how private they are!

Secret Spot Hot Tubs is first on our list, because who doesn’t love a private oasis to relax in? It’s definitely one of the must-do activities in Rotorua and is a great idea for a romantic New Zealand getaway.

As the name suggests, the place offers hot tubs hidden away next to the trees and Waipa Stream.

There are 12 private hot tubs you can book that fit up to 6 people and are filled with water from a hidden spring in the Whakarewarewa Forest. Make sure you reserve ahead of time so there’s a pool ready for you!

If you don’t want a full-on hot tub soak, they also offer a mini cedar hot tub for your feet. Just purchase a fresh-brewed coffee or beverage from the on-site bar to get a complimentary ‘shinny dip’ – this is especially nice after mountain biking in the area!

For a relaxing getaway, reserve your spot with this private hot tub soak package. You’ll get a cedar hot tub exclusively for you to enjoy a relaxing 45-minute dip for $39 NZD a person. Order from the bar without leaving the tub with the push of a button! The tour also includes car parking, lockers for storing clothes, a site map, and a hot shower.

Secret Spot Hot Tubs is open every day between 9 am and 10 pm. Hot tub prices range from $41 NZD for one person up to $210 NZD for six people. Rates for children (5 to 14 years old) are $14 NZD.

2. Hot Water Beach

A lady relaxes at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel, New Zealand
What a place to watch the sunrise!

Easily one of the most popular and unique spots in New Zealand is the aptly named Hot Water Beach where you can dig your own hot pool!

This is one of the country’s most beautiful beaches along the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, just south of Mercury Bay. It is approximately 12 km (7.5 miles) southeast of Whitianga and approximately 175 km (109 miles) from Auckland.

It’s quite a phenomenon and is made possible by the thermal water which bubbles below the sand’s surface! All you have to do is dig in the sand in the right spot and the water that comes up is steaming hot – how cool!

Hot Water Beach attracts hundreds of people every day just before low tide. In fact, it’s best to visit Hot Water beach either two hours before or two hours after low tide. This is the only time when you can access the hot water areas (during high tide, the hot water vents are covered by the ocean).

You can bring your own shovel with you or rent one for a small fee at the little store here. It can be quite hard to find the best spot to dig, especially if you’re one of the first people here. The beach is over 1 km (0.6 miles) in length, so it’s important to know where to go! 

From the parking lot, walk onto the beach and, turn left, continue walking until the beach narrows – you will notice at this point a large rock in the ocean. Stand facing the rock, and you have found the best spot to start digging. 

If you don’t fancy driving to Hot Water Beach, you can book this Coromandel tour from Auckland. You’ll visit Hot Water Beach at low tide to dig your own hot pool along with stops at Cathedral Cove and Hahei for lunch. Round-trip transportation, snacks, and even shovels for the beach are included for $326 NZD. 

Related read: Another way to visit multiple hot springs on the North Island is road-tripping it by renting a campervan in Auckland or renting a car in Auckland!

3. Polynesian Spa in Rotorua  

Bailey relaxes in a hot pool in the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua
On a beautiful day, the views would be so amazing!
Bailey at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua
I never want to leave!

Rotorua Lake has many different mineral pools, which allows for a geothermal hot spring experience right in the heart of nature. This is great for anyone looking to experience the local landscape of the northeastern section of the North Island

The Polynesian Spa offers access to both the alkaline water of the Rachel Spring and the acidic water of the Priest Spring, both of which are natural mineral springs. There are also plenty of day spa therapies and relaxing soaks on offer.

From hot and cold pools to geothermally heated poolside recliners, this experience is so relaxing and feels quite tranquil. You can get your entrance ticket from about $50 NZD, which will give you access to 5 of the mineral hot pools overlooking the lake, as well as full spa access.  

There are a variety of options when it comes to accessing different types of pools and bathing packages, directly through the spa and their booking options. You can spend anything from about $10 – 80 NZD on a range of experiences from family pools to private pools and more comprehensive packages. The spa options are also wonderful additions and include a soak in the deluxe hot pools before your treatment.

The spa and its hot springs are open daily from 9 am to 11 pm.

Rotorua itself is a great area, but you might find that staying in Tauranga is best for you, seeing that it is on the coast and is more of a hub. You can still easily get to the Rotorua Polynesian Spa from Tauranga with a tour! The tour costs $240 NZD and includes entry, transportation, a Māori lunch, a cultural show, and a tour guide. You’ll travel in a luxury vehicle, get plenty of time at the spa, and can avoid the hassle of getting the hour drive down to Rotorua yourself. Book here now to grab your spot!

4. Kawhia Hot Water Beach  

Kawhia Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
The two hot water beaches in New Zealand are so cool!

One of the best-kept secrets on the North Island is the Hot Water Beach at Kawhia. Here, like the other famous hot water beach I mentioned earlier, you can dig your own private hot pool. But at Kawhia, you’ll likely have the beach all to yourself!

It can be quite hard to find Kawhia Hot Water Beach if you don’t know where to look. It’s about an hour’s drive from Raglan or Hamilton. You’ll need to drive to the end of Ocean Beach Road in Kawhia and park at the parking lot at the end. From here, walk across the sand dunes onto Ocean Beach (that’s the official name of the beach) and find a spot to dig.

Worth noting is you can only do this at low tide, so be sure to check the tide times before you go!

Related read: Find more hidden gems by exploring some of the best waterfalls in New Zealand!

5. Waikite Valley Thermal Pools 

hot pool pool at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools in New Zealand
Photo credit: Waikite Valley Thermal Pools
swimming pool at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools in New Zealand
Photo credit: Waikite Valley Thermal Pools

The Waikite Valley Thermal Pools are connected to the Te Manaroa Spring, which just so happens to be the largest single source of 100% pure geothermal water in New Zealand. Talk about a cool experience!

This area is about 25 minutes from Rotorua and includes everything from more populated, family-friendly areas to hikes, secluded hot spring experiences, and on-site accommodation options to allow for a longer stay here. 

When it comes to the water of the thermal pools, you can experience everything from the 6 options in the hot pool complex to the private spas nearby. There is also a Te Manaroa Spring Eco-Trail that allows you to walk straight to the source of the geothermal water that sustains the entirety of this area’s thermal pools. 

If you can’t decide which pools to visit, you can opt to stay at the campground to enjoy more time at this site. The pools are open daily from 10:30 am to 8 pm, and there is even an on-site café that is open from noon to 6 pm daily so that you can enjoy some meals in between your soaking sessions. 

If camping isn’t your thing, or you’ve already made plans to stay in town in Rotorua, you can utilize this 4-hour Thermal Path Tour. Not only will you get to visit the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools and the Te Manaroa Spring, but you’ll also end up at the Waiotapu Mud Pool during this guided tour. Pickup and drop-off from a central location are included in this tour, and your local guide will be able to give you lots of behind-the-scenes insight into the area and all of its geothermal glory for just under $90 NZD.

6. Hell’s Gate Geothermal Reserve and Mud Spa 

Hell's Gate Geothermal Reserve and Mud Spa  in New Zealand
Photo credit: Hells Gate

Another option near Rotorua, the Hell’s Gate Geothermal Reserve and Mud Spa offers not only a bathing experience in its waters but also a unique view into the sacred nature of this incredible land.

Expect to learn about the history of these hot springs and their healing properties, as well as the legends that this area has inspired – they add so much to an already sought-after, tranquil experience.  

Here, you can do everything from walking in the bush to soaking in the mud and waters of Tikitere, known in English as Hell’s Gate. It’s all thanks to the statement made by poet George Bernard Shaw, who said, “This could be the very gates of hell” when he saw the place.

The largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere is also located here and is a must-see. The area is open at 10 am daily, and closes at either 6 pm or 8 pm, depending on the time of year. Regardless, you have plenty of time to both explore and relax here. You can rent towels and swimwear on-site, though I recommend at least bringing your own swimwear to be the most comfortable.  

For an entrance ticket to the mud experience, you’ll pay around $85 NZD which gets you an hour-long experience of the therapeutic mud bath and sulfur spa package, leaving you feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated. It’s easily one of the best experiences to do near Rotorua! This option gives you access to a smaller group so that the soak is more private but does not include other aspects of a traditional tour. Essentially, you are paying for your entry and a more exclusive setting.

This site is so incredible that I recommend making a point to visit, even if you are staying as far out as Auckland, about 3 hours away. Luckily, there is a tour to Hell’s Gate from Auckland, so you don’t have to navigate that transportation alone.

This tour not only stops at Hell’s Gate but takes you to Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Lady Knox Geyser, the Primrose Terraces, and allows you to walk through various areas to fully experience the volcanic wonders of the region. Other than meals, which you have a chance to choose and purchase yourself, everything is included. The cost is just under $650 ND, which is great when you factor in travel, admission, and the number of stops you get to see! 

7. Kerosene Creek

a couple hanging out in some natural hot springs near Lake Taupo
Hanging out at Kerosene Creek!

Ok, so its name might not be the most appealing, but I promise you don’t want to miss out on swimming in Kerosene Creek! Plus, this activity is totally free.

Kerosene Creek is very close to Waiotapu Geothermal Park, located around the halfway point on the drive from Taupo to Rotorua.

To get there, drive down Old Waitopatu Road until you reach a grass area on the right-hand side where you can park. From there, you should be able to spot a dirt track that will lead you to Kerosene Creek.

Once you reach the creek, you can enjoy swimming in the natural hot springs. There’s a small waterfall and some man-made pools where you can bathe in water that naturally averages 30°C (86°F), which is pretty much like bathwater!

I will be honest with you, though, Kerosene Creek does have an… Ahem… funky smell due to the rotting vegetation around the edges of the creek and, of course, the sulfur in the water. But that’s all part of the experience, and to be honest, it’s a small price to pay for such an awesome experience.

Related read: For more budget-friendly activities, check out all the free things to do in Queenstown and Christchurch!

8. Morere Hot Springs  

Indoor pool at Morere Hot Springs in New Zealand
Photo credit: Morere Hot Springs

A bit further to the southeast from the Rotorua area, you’ll find the Morere Hot Springs, located in the Hawke’s Bay area. This area is known for its wide range of New Zealand activities, from outdoor adventures to delicious wine.

The hot springs here are quite a rare example of natural hot springs that also happen to be made of natural salt water, enhancing the benefits that you already see at other natural geothermal centers.  

The water comes from a cracked fault that crosses a nearby valley and is then piped to various pools both public and private around the area. The water is in high demand, due to the fact that it is not only thermal but seawater that is rich in minerals and has tons of curative, therapeutic properties.

You can enjoy a private pool, a large, open pool, or the Nikau pools that have varying temperatures. There truly is something for everyone here, and the private pools only cost a few dollars more than the public ones, giving you a general price range of $8-14 NZD for children 5-15, and $16-20 NZD for adults. During the offseason, discounts are common, which can be a nice surprise, too! 

Only open on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 am to 5:45 pm, you’ll want to plan around these hot springs if you want to visit. The Nikau pools close at 4:45 pm, as well, so the earlier you can arrive, the better chance you will have at a relaxing, full experience here.  

9. Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs

Steaming hot pool at DeBretts Spa Resort and Water Park in Taupo, New Zealand
Photo credit: Taupo DeBretts

The DeBretts Spa Resort is another place where you can literally soak up the Taupo region’s volcanic past and present in the natural hot springs.

The park is home to two huge hot pools that are filled by a natural spring called Onekenek. The waters from the spring are way too hot, so DeBretts actually cools the water to a temperature range of 38-41°C (100-104°F). It’s the perfect place to relax after a day spent hiking on the North Island with mineral waters that help relax muscles and soothe sunburns.

Although the natural hot pools are the main attraction at DeBretts, you can also visit a range of other attractions here. This includes the theme park with waterslides, a warm water playground, indoor private pools, and freshwater pools. It’s a place both kids and adults will love! 

Entrance to the two main pools costs $24 NZD and you can purchase tickets online. DeBretts is open from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm, with the last entry at 9 pm.

10. Spa Thermal Park at Otumuheke Stream

A lady sits in Otumuheke Stream in Taupo, NZ
Otumuheke Stream!

The Spa Thermal Park in Taupo is a wonderful location to take a stroll through some spectacular natural scenery or soak in the famous hot pools of the Otumuheke Stream.

What I love about this park is that it’s completely free to explore! It’s located about a 25-minute walk from the center of Taupo or a quick 5-minute drive.

There are some nice trails to walk or mountain bike that follow the banks of the Waikato River.

Bring a bathing suit to take a dip in the geothermal waters of the Otumuheke Stream. The mineral water here is naturally warm, like a nice bath, not too hot. You can even swim near a gentle waterfall in these beautiful natural rock pools. This is a great spot for families too!

There’s been a recent revamp of the area with change rooms, washrooms, and lockers available along with a seating area and a spot to grab a coffee.

The Spa Thermal Park is open from 7 am to 8 pm daily, and as I mentioned before, it’s totally free!

11. Tokaanu Thermal Pools 

 pool at Tokaanu Thermal Pool in New Zealand
Photo credit: Tokaanu Thermal Pool

Located centrally on the North Island, near Taupō, you’ll find the Tokaanu Thermal Pools, made up of private, natural mineral pools that are located near a large public pool.

The location of these hot springs makes them the perfect spot to soak and relieve muscles that are sore after completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park.

If you aren’t a hiker, you can still take time to relax and decompress with a good, affordable, local experience that many visitors may be inclined to skip over because it isn’t quite as fancy as some of the other options. That is one of the reasons that I so enjoyed these thermal pools, though. They weren’t overly crowded, and it cost $12 NZD to get access to the private pools.  

The nearby stream and thermal area have been utilized by local Māori tribes for centuries, and you can see more of the area by exploring the Tokaanu Thermal Walk as you make your way through the bush and around the mineral pools and mud ponds. 

Open every day but Christmas, the pools are available for entry from 10 am to 9 pm. So, you’ll surely find time to come and relax before setting off for your next hike, tour, or dinner reservation in town. 

12. Fernland Spa  

hot pool at Fernland Spa in New Zealand
Photo credit: Fernland Spa

Found in the Tauranga area, located on the coast of the North Island, even further north than Rotorua, you’ll have a chance to visit Fernland Spa

They are a multi-faceted space, offering everything from events to classes, cycling, and, of course, the thermal pools. The area is stunning and regardless of which pool you choose, you can plan to be surrounded by ferns, birds, and other aspects of nature that surrounds this space. 

The mineral water that fuels this spa comes from an aquifer deep underground, and is heated by hot volcanic rock, infusing it with minerals, ions, and other trace elements that are great for healing, soothing, and rejuvenating the skin. In fact, the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science has classified Fernland Spa as a true mineral spring. 

All the pools are all emptied and refilled daily to provide the cleanest, purest water possible.  

You can choose between the main pool, private pools, and bubbly pools, all of which range from $17-$22 NZD for adults and $6-10 NZD for kids. The private and bubbly pools’ rates are per 30 minutes, though, so if you want an hour soak you should expect to pay a bit more.

Open from 8:30 am to 10 pm daily, this is another one that allows you to make the most of your day, especially if you choose to stay on-site at the campgrounds or luxury cabins for a night or two. The spa is only a 5-to-10-minute drive from Tauranga city center if you already have accommodation booked elsewhere. It’s also a great way to break up a road trip from Tauranga to Rotorua!

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13. Oropi Hot Pools & Cafe  

Pool at Oropi Hot Pools & Cafe in New Zealand
Photo credit: Oropi Hot Pools & Cafe

Also located just 15 minutes outside of Tauranga, the Oropi Hot Pools & Cafe is home to a main pool and private pools, which can be covered or open-roof to allow you to enjoy the day or stargaze at night.   

The pools are beautiful and spacious, made even better by the lush foliage that surrounds them. I recommend trying to catch a sunset here because you’ll get to see a show that paints the beautiful wide-open sky in between taking in the daylight and stargazing later at night. 

Open Friday through Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm, these hot pools are a great weekend plan, and you can enjoy food at the café from 10:30 am to 8 pm. There are weekly specials combined with pool entry, that you can view on-site or on their Facebook page as they are updated.  

Anyone 13 and older will pay $13 NZD for the public pool, and $17.50-29 NZD for the private pool spaces, depending on how long they are utilized for.

All in all, this is another fantastic, affordable experience that felt just local enough while still offering spectacular views and a relaxing environment. 

14. Palm Springs Geothermal Pools 

swimming pools at Palm Springs Geothermal Pools in New Zealand
Photo credit: Palm Springs Parakai

Located in Paraki, in the Auckland area on the northern tip of the North Island you’ll find the Palm Springs Geothermal Pools Complex. This is a great Auckland day trip to soak in naturally-heated geothermal water that’s also treated by chlorine as a way to additionally filter the water. 

They have a café that offers Korean and Kiwi dishes, which was a surprising combination but ended up being some really amazing food for great prices! 

Enjoy the rock pool which feels a bit more secluded and tropical or the ocean pool which is a wider open space. At night, these areas get great views of the sky so that you can stargaze while you soak, always a welcome, calming experience. 

Open 10 am to 9 pm every day but Sunday, when they open at 3 pm, and Tuesday, when they are closed, these pools are a wonderful, open space.

Adults can expect to pay $24 NZD and kids cost $13 NZD for entry. They also offer a family plan that seemed like a pretty popular option, costing $68 NZD for 2 adults and 2 kids to enter. There are also Facebook promotions that they run quite often, so you have a good shot at paying even less than these prices! 

Related read: If you’re based in Auckland, check out the top recommendations of places to stay in Auckland.

Hot Pools and Hot Springs on the South Island 

14. Onsen Hot Pools

the view at ONSEN Hot Pools in Queenstown, New Zealand
Photo credit: ONSEN Hot Pools
beautiful views at ONSEN Hot Pools in Queenstown, New Zealand
Photo credit: ONSEN Hot Pools

If you can only go to one hot pool in New Zealand, make it Onsen Hot Pools, just outside Queenstown. It’s regarded as one of the top spots to see in all of New Zealand. For islands with so many of these bodies of water, that says a lot! 

In fact, Onsen Hot Pools and Day Spa is a winner of the 2021 World Luxury Spa Award and is partnered with Tourism New Zealand. It doesn’t get more official than that. 

Just thinking about their cedar tubs and the surreal views has me thinking about booking another session. 

Located just 10 minutes from Queenstown, you can arrange your own transportation or take the complimentary shuttle from the city center. All you have to do is request transportation in your booking and boom! Easy as that.  

The shuttle runs on a consistent schedule, which makes it extra reliable. You’ll be picked up half an hour before your booking and will want to make sure to be there right on time so that you don’t have to scramble for last-minute transport to the hot pools. 

The soak-only options allow 1-4 people, and costs will go down when you have more people in your party. For example, ‘The Outdoor Onsen’ soak is $87.50 NZD for an individual to book but will go as low as $57.50 NZD when you have a 4-person party. 

You can soak under the open sky or book an option with a retractable roof. Regardless of your choice, you’re sure to have a breathtaking view of the mountains and river just beyond your pool. 

When it comes to the spa packages, you get about 45 minutes to soak and an hour or two for your spa treatment afterward, with various massage options to choose from.  

One thing that I found particularly fun about the soak and spa packages is the refreshments they include. You’ll receive complimentary regional wine, beer, or juice and can choose between ice cream, chips, or chocolate to enjoy as you relax.  

If you happen to be staying in Queenstown, and are flexible with your schedule, I highly recommend booking a soak after sunset, too. The experience is made magical by Japanese lanterns that surround your hot pool, and the starry night sky above you. You’re surrounded by light, and this is an experience you won’t forget any time soon. 

Keep in mind that children under 5 are not allowed for safety purposes, and the evening sessions are restricted to those 12 and over. The pools are open daily from 9 am to 11 pm. 

Related read: A visit to the hot pools is a fantastic addition to a honeymoon in Queenstown!

15. Driftaway Queenstown

Driftaway Queenstown is branded as New Zealand’s newest holiday park, and it is certainly worth the stop! Located further south than Onsen, these pools are in the Frankton Arm area, but still about 10 minutes away from Queenstown.  

In fact, you can grab a water taxi from the Central Queenstown lakefront in order to get to Driftaway in no time. Talk about a full experience – you’ll get a boat ride and up-close views of the lake before experiencing the elevated, relaxing view of the same area from your hot pool. 

With cabins, camping, family units, and studio units, we also recommend staying for a few days to make the most of your time at Driftaway. Not only will you have lake views and access to the hot pools, but you’ll also have full use of the facility hub to cook, do laundry, eat meals, and dry off after skiing in the winter

If you’re traveling to Queenstown with kids, they are sure to be occupied by the outdoor play spaces, indoor pillow and games rooms, and other activities so that you can relax and reset. The site also backs up to Queentown’s best and safest swimming beach, which means that the entire family will have plenty to explore and enjoy here. 

The idyllic area is full of guests that are looking to enjoy the scenery, meet new people, and relax in a lively-yet-tranquil space. 

16. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools  

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools in New Zealand
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
hot pool at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools in New Zealand
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa

In the northern part of New Zealand’s South Island lies Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools, a resort village that displays a unique cross between a water park and a relaxing, spa-like environment. This one is great for families traveling with a group of all ages because anyone who wants to swim and enjoy waterslides can do that, while others can relax in the much more secluded hot pools and spa area.  

For us, the thermal pools and spa were the highlights, though the rides and swimming areas looked fun. I enjoyed that the areas were kept separate enough to meet everyone’s needs, without feeling too crowded.

For example, the sulphur pools, aqua therapy, private pools, steam and sauna area, rainbow and rock pools, and cascade pools are all kept in the section of the complex that is furthest away from the slides and kids’ activities.

For anyone that is traveling with a family, though, everything is still close enough to be available to each other, which I know is important! 

If you want to utilize a 30-minute thermal pool, sauna, or steam experience, you can pay $48 NZD a person and get access to the entirety of the complex. Their website also does a great job of laying out pricing for anyone wanting entry that includes waterslides, potential re-entry, and even 2-day passes. 

The pools themselves come in a variety of styles, with different temperatures, mineral properties, and even backdrops to choose from. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll find exactly what you are looking for in at least one of their thermal pools. Open daily from 10 am to 7 pm, you can head down after a whale-watching tour in Kaikōura or decide to spend the entirety of your day here. 

This complex is located at the edge of Hanmer Forest Park, so odds are you’re either staying at one of the properties connected to Hanmer Springs, or you are coming in from somewhere larger like Kaikōura or even further away, 2 hours south in Christchurch.  

If you’re coming up for the day, I recommend this Hanmer Springs Day Trip from Christchurch, which costs $325 NZD and includes round-trip transportation and hotel pickup, lunch, a driver and guide, a jet-boat ride through the nearby Waiau Gorge, and more. You’ll stop by the resort village complex, have a soak, and not have to worry about any entry fees, transportation, or other logistics. It’s nice and easy, and so worth it! 

That tour is limited to 50 travelers, but if that is too large a group, you can also opt to take a Private Tour from Christchurch, which offers a very similar itinerary, but includes a wine tasting in the Waipara Hills region, an option to upgrade and add a 90-minute hot stone massage, and a private tour guide with a group of your choosing. At $600 NZD, I’d say that you still get your money’s worth for a 10-hour day of relaxing, alcohol, private transport, and Wi-Fi onboard the bus. You’ll want to plan to pay for meals, mainly lunch, but will have complimentary refreshments throughout your day. 

Related read: A great road trip around here is the drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura!

17. Omarama Hot Tubs

Bailey relaxes in the Hot Tubs Omarama, New Zealand
Such a beautiful spot!
Bailey smiles at the camera while in the Hot Tubs Omarama
Why wouldn’t you stop here?

The Omarama Hot Tubs are to the small town of Omarama what the Onsen Hot Pools are to Queenstown. Both are one of the top attractions in their respective towns!

It’s a great place to relax and take in the incredible mountain scenery, the hot tubs are filled with mountain water, and you can adjust the temperature of the tub to your liking. 

To find these ones, you’ll be heading about 25 minutes from Twizel or about an hour from Lake Tekapo.

My top tip is to visit the hot tubs at night to watch the stars and maybe even see the Southern lights if you’re lucky!

A 90-minute hot tub session costs $54 NZD per person, but that’s based on two people sharing. However, they have larger tubs that can fit up to eight people, and the more people in the tub, the lower the price! There’s also a sauna on-site here. 

As mentioned, this is one of the most popular activities around here, so advance booking is advised!

18. He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools 

Bailey relaxes in the He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools in Christchurch
It’s too hard to get out!
Bailey enters the He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools in Christchurch, New Zealand
On a windy day, the warm pools are amazing!

Just 15 minutes outside of Christchurch, on the coast of New Brighton, He Puna Taimoana Hot Pools make an uber-relaxing day trip from Christchurch.

Not only are these pools relaxing and luxurious but they have the most amazing ocean views. I personally can’t imagine many things better than sitting in a hot pool and overlooking the ocean, especially around sunset. I’d say that magical is an appropriate way to describe the experience.  

What’s better than a sunset? A sunrise! During certain times of the year, on Thursdays and Saturdays around sunrise, you can book a sunrise soak that allows you to take in the first golden light of the day. Complete with a luxurious robe to wear, a complimentary mocktail, and guided meditation, this event is 16+ to create the most relaxing environment possible. Now, that is a good reason to get up a little early, I’d say. 

For general bookings, you can select 1 of 4 times daily and will pay $14-16 NZD for adults and $10-12 NZD for kids, depending on whether you visit during peak season or not. You’ll get access to 5 hot pools, a plunge pool, sauna, steam room, and an on-site café. Even the changing rooms are heated here, to give you the most comfortable experience every step of the way. 

You can also visit from 10 am to 7:30 pm daily, making this not only beautiful and affordable but also accessible at whichever point in the day you choose to stop by. 

Related read: If you’re an early bird, some of New Zealand’s best hikes can be done at sunrise for stellar views!

19. Hot Tub on the Hillside 

Hot Tub on the Hillside in Queenstown, New Zealand
Photo credit: Hot Tub on the Hillside 

Okay, this is just what it looks like – a hot tub on the side of a hill! If privacy and incredible views are for you, Hot Tub on the Hillside delivers. This is one of those hidden gems in Queenstown with a singular hot tub available for private bookings.

It fits 2-4 people and you can book up to 3 hours of relaxing soaking time every day between 12-9 pm.

Because this hot pool is a singular fixture, the water is changed between groups, and you can raise or lower the temperature as you prefer. You’ll want to expect a bit of a walk between the parking lot and the hot tub area, but that just means you get to see a little extra scenery. 

I loved the feeling of sitting in the warm water and looking out across the incredible landscape. It’s hard to describe it, but it made me feel at one with the nature surrounding me.  

The experience was so special from start to finish, and such a welcome contrast to some of the more populated areas we visited on our trip.  

The best part, though? Its location is only 10 minutes from the city, making it one of the best hot pools near Queenstown! That’s what made this hot pool the perfect intersection of accessible and personalized, for me. 

Also, let’s be honest for a second… this is the perfect place to get all your Insta-worthy pics without feeling silly or getting other people in the background.  

Since this hot tub is open year-round for bookings, they recommend arriving before 3 pm in the winter, and in the evening during the summer. This way, you maximize your daylight hours in the winter but avoid the heat of the day in the summer. It’s all about balance! 

While there may be age restrictions, much of this will fall under your discretion. The good thing is that you can keep an eye on the kids by letting them play or have a picnic while you soak. 

20. Tekapo Springs

The Tekapo Springs, Lake Tekapo
The views from the springs are breathtaking! Photo credit: Tekapo Springs

Tekapo Springs at beautiful Lake Tekapo is where you can indulge in 3 different hot pools, which, interestingly are named after popular areas in the region because they are shaped like these areas.

First, there’s Ohau at 36.5ºC (97.5ºF), second is Pukaki at 37.5ºC (99.5ºF), and Tekapo which is adults only at 38ºC (100.4ºF). There’s also an Aqua Play Area with two cooler pools that are great for kids. You’ll also find a steam and sauna room and a cold plunge pool. Tekapo Springs really is the perfect place to relax for a couple of hours.

Not forgetting the stunning views of Lake Tekapo and the surrounding mountains that can be seen from every part of the Springs. There’s a Day Spa on site too if you’re after a facial, massage, or one of many other treatments on offer there.

Access to the pools and Aqua Play area costs $33 NZD per adult with discounts available for children and families. The rate is more if you wish to use the sauna and steam rooms. During the winter in New Zealand, the area is transformed and you can enjoy ice skating on the outdoor rink or ride on a snow tube!

To enjoy some stargazing poolside, this is the only guided hot pool and stargazing tour in New Zealand. Imagine that – soaking in a hot pool while gazing up at the dark sky reserve. On the two-hour tour at Tekapo Springs, you will learn all about stars, planets, and galaxies. This tour costs $119 NZD per adult. If by any chance there’s poor weather you can still experience an indoor virtual reality tour of the Tekapo Dark Sky Reserve.

Related read: At Tekapo Springs you’ll also find Altitude 720 Cafe, one of the best restaurants in Lake Tekapo and a great place to eat breakfast or lunch.

21. Glacier Hot Pools Franz Josef  

A lady relaxes in the Franz Josef Hot pools in Franz Josef
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Nestled in lush green rainforest is one of the best things to do in Franz Josef. The Glacier Hot Pools are home to three main pools that are hidden among the gorgeous scenery.

No need to worry about the rainy New Zealand west coast weather here – the pools range from 36-40ºC (97-104ºF) and are covered by giant sails offering protection from the wind and rain.

Visiting the Glacier Hot Pools is easily the most relaxing thing to do in Franz Josef. After lots of long hikes and days exploring the Franz Josef Glacier, what could be better to soothe your sore muscles!?

Entry to the public pools costs $29 NZD for adults, $25 NZD for children, and kids under 5 are free.

You can also book a private pool for 45 minutes – the perfect experience to relax with a loved one. The pools are located in the center of Franz Josef town on Cron Street. From most hotels in Franz Josef, you can easily walk here.

22. Maruia Hot Springs 

hot spring pool at Maruia Hot Springs  in New Zealand
Photo credit: Maruia Hot Springs 

Finally, we come to the Maruia Hot Springs, located in the Southern Alps a little way east of Hanmer Springs, about 2.5 hours from Christchurch. This is a worthwhile drive, perhaps even as an extension of a visit to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. 

These award-winning natural hot springs include a day spa. Maruia Hot Springs are a stunning place to reconnect with nature and take the time to really slow down to enjoy the relaxing environment. You’ll find a foot bath, cold plunge pool, thermal showers, infrared sauna, outdoor bathing, rock sauna, steam room, and lots of other wellness-centric offerings. 

Enjoy hiking trails, great food, and the perfect chance to unplug from technology to create the most mindful, tranquil environment possible.

When I tell you that this place feels like a true retreat, I mean that! The mountains, hot springs and nature are the very center of the place, and every other aspect is thoughtfully woven around those natural elements. It’s so refreshing, and just thinking about it has me reminiscing on the yoga and detox sessions that we did after soaking in the hot springs. 

They close on Tuesdays at 11 am and reopen on Thursdays at 3 pm to be open from 8 am through 9 pm the rest of the week. Thanks to the far-away location of these hot springs, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to enhance your escape by staying on-site, with options that vary from camping to glamping to luxury hotel rooms. Whatever your preference, and price point, they have you covered.  

You can always come by for a day visit, too, if you’re in the area or on an epic South Island road trip!

It’s quite affordable at $75 NZD for adults, and $105 NZD if you want to include a gourmet lunch, which I recommend. There are also packages that include massages, and twilight experiences. Regardless of your accommodation needs or which package you decide to try, there’s something for everyone, so try it out! 

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.

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Bailey relaxes at the Hot Tubs Omarama at sunset in New Zealand
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Hopefully, this guide to all the best hot springs and hot pools in New Zealand has been helpful! They are spread out on both islands, so you might just find yourself close to a few of these spots on your trip. Whether you visit one or many on this list, you’re sure to get some great relaxing time in on your vacation.

If you’re in the midst of planning a New Zealand getaway, make sure to browse around my other blogs. I have lots of road trip ideas and activities in destinations all across the country. I hope you fall in love with this country like I did!

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