You can't let cool temperatures stop you from heading out on an adventure and make the most of your leisure time! Fill two needs with one deed - get outdoors and stay warm while soaking in a natural hot pool or spring! Here are 5 of our favourite spots to soak while surrounded by nature this winter.
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1. Kerosene Creek, Waiotapu
Located approximately 30km out of Rotorua, this hidden gem is well worth the mission off the beaten track to get there! After parking up on the side of the gravel road, get changed into your swimmers in the small corrugated iron changing shed and take a short walk through the bush to the little waterfall which cascades into a naturally formed pool. Soaking in the pools is total bliss. The natural surroundings are incredibly peaceful and the warm geothermal water is soothing on aches and pains.
Directions: From central Rotorua, follow Fenton Street onto State Highway 30 and then State Highway 5. After following this road for approximately 20km, take a right turn onto the Thermal Explorer Highway and then the first left onto Old Walotapu Rd. The Kerosene Creek track is about 2km along this road on the right.
2. Otumuheke Stream, Taupo
When you think of the Waikato River you probably picture freezing cold waters but, in this unique spot, a natural geothermal spring pumps hot water into the river making a natural spa. Get into your togs in the changing rooms and head to the water to enjoy a gentle massage under the waterfalls or a soak in one of the pools. Paddle around to find your ideal temperature, the further you get from the stream the cooler the water gets as it mixes with the cold river flow.
Directions: Park in the carpark at the end of County Avenue. From here, follow the Huka Falls Walkway until you reach the footbridge.
3. Hot Water Beach, Hahei
At high tide, this is a normal, albeit, stunning East Coast beach. Come low-tide, the hot spring beneath surfaces and piping hot water comes through the golden sand. Pack a spade/shovel and dig yourself a spa pool. If you forget a spade, you can hire one from a local spot (Hotties Cafe, Hot Water Beach Cafe and, the Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park) or hop into someone elses abandoned pool.
Parking: If you're willing to walk, we recommend parking in one of the three free car parks slightly further away from the beach. The main carpark, closest to the beach, fills up quickly and is pay and display.
4. Kawhia Springs, Kawhia
Just out of the small town of Kawhia, natural geothermal water bubbles up through the black sands of Ocean Beach. Much like Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, the springs are uncovered by the sea 2 hours either side of low tide, however, Kawhia Springs is far less crowded. To find a suitable spot, line up the two yellow poles on the beach and wander around, digging your feet into the sand, until you feel the heat.
Tip: Wear closed in shoes! To reach the beach, you have to walk over a large dune of black sand which gets scorching hot.
5. Welcome Flat Hot Pools, Karangarua
This one is for people truly dedicated to the pursuit of hot pools and epic adventure! The Welcome Flat Hot Pools are located in the mountains of Westland National Park. To reach them, you’ll need to hike the Copland Track for approximately 7 hours. Just a short walk from the Welcome Flat Hut are four pools of varying temperatures dug from a mud fan. Soak in the pools and enjoy some of the best views of snow-capped mountains and native forest in the country. The hike is totally worthwhile!
Directions: The start of the Copland track is just off State Highway 6, 26 km south of Fox Glacier. The turn-off to the car park is well signposted on the northern side of the Karangarua River bridge.
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