Soak in hot water pools this winter

By: Tourism New Zealand, Photography by: Tourism New Zealand

Known for its geothermal activity, New Zealand has some of the best soaking spots

New Zealand’s beautiful beaches and waterways are a major attraction and, turning up the temperature from just plain cool to steamy, some of the best soaking spots boast heated water—and, even better, no one has to pay the electricity bill because nature provides the power.

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

Hot -pools

Two hours either side of low tide, Hot Water Beach (aka Te Puia) fills up with visitors eager to dig their own spa pools in the sand. On the Coromandel Peninsula between Tairua and Whitianga, this thermal sandpit is a star attraction, with temperatures ranging from tepid to scalding.

Either dig with your hands or hire a spade and, while it’s perfectly fun to soak here in summer, on a cold winter’s day it’s hard to beat. At night, when the moon is out and the stars are twinkling, it’s utterly heavenly. But do be warned, the open sea can be rugged so less experienced swimmers must take extra special care.

Te Rata Bay, Lake Tarawera

On the southern shore of Rotorua’s Lake Tarawera, Te Rata Bay (also referred to as Hot Water Beach) is understandably popular. Fringed with pohutukawa trees and alive with native birds, as well as wild wallabies, the thermal vents on this beach help keep campers’ coffee hot while they roast their daily catch in sandpits.

Kaitoke Hot Springs, Great Barrier Island

The largest and furthest-flung island in the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier/Aotea is 90km from Auckland. A rugged rock that’s completely off grid, it tends to attract a capable sort of citizen. Renowned for unspoiled beaches, impressive wildlife and rich history, it’s also home to a picturesque thermal pool.

Kaitoke Hot Springs is an easy, pram-friendly 45-minute walk from Whangaparapara Road. But be sure to take any provisions you need with you, as aside from two long-drop lavatories, this beautiful spot is completely non-commercial.

Kawhia Ocean Beach, Waikato

Less crowded than Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach, hot springs can be found at Kawhia’s Ocean Beach for two hours either side of low tide. Steeped in history, Kawhia is where the Tainui waka (one of the original canoes carrying the first Polynesians) came to rest after its epic trans-Pacific voyage, and today is a sleepy little spot, far from the madding crowds and all the better for it.

If you’re not sure where to dig to gain access to the steaming seams, a friendly local will show you the way. But be warned, because this is a black sand beach, it can really heat up in summer, so don’t forget your shoes.

Welcome Flat Hot Pools

And don’t forget the South Island, because 20km south of Fox Glacier you’ll find Welcome Flat Hot Pools, near a conveniently positioned DOC (Department of Conservation) hut.

Surrounded by snowy peaks and forest, there are several temperature options with even the fussiest bathers catered for – provided they don’t mind mud. The pools are accessed via the Copland Track, which is 18km one way (it takes about seven hours to complete), so ensure you book ahead for one of the 31 beds in the DOC hut. Of course you’ll need to take your food, sleeping bag and swimming suit as well. It’s open year round, so pack for the conditions and keep an eye on weather reports.

Source: Tourism New Zealand

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