When I arrived in New Zealand in 1974 I was a hitchhiker, traveling and exploring with my back on my back. It was coming on to autumn and winter and being a warm blooded Australian I thought my swimming days were past.
I soon discovered that in this geologically younger volcanic landscape, there seemed to be hot pools around every corner.
Recently I have been based in the Waikato Region and have discovered a couple of new hot spots – and there are even more I have not been to.
We had heard this had a lovely bush pool that you could hire for an hour. So we booked it, rang friends and took the drive out. There is also the big public pool, but booking the private pool was just what we needed. We wandered down some stairs to an old wooden gate, and behind this was our pool. It was nothing flash, but all the more enchanting because of that.
Opal Hot Springs 257 Okauia Springs Road Matamata 07 8888198
Te Aroha Hot Springs
At the foot of the Coromandel Ranges is Te Aroha, a beautiful small New Zealand town, with great walks and afterwards the perfect place to relax in the Te Aroha domain where there is a great little café, and some hot pools to relax – a perfect winter escape. You can relax in the Pools – there is a Spa pool away from the hussle and bustle of the main pool. Or you can really relax in the mineral spa with massage, hot tubs, old fashioned slipper baths
Some of my other favourites in the upper North Island
- In Rotorua I sat in the very well known Polynesian Pools and was offered a lift to Gisborne (which I took – sitting in the back of a farm utility with my pack.
- Near Rotorua I was taken by friends across a lake to a hot pool you could only get to by boat, set in the midst of bush
At Hotwater Beach on the Coromandel, we took spades and dug a hole for ourselves in the sand at low tide. These days there are busloads at this spot – when we were there in the 1970s, we were the only ones.
- At Mt Maunganui I sat in the hot pools at the foot of the Mountain
- Waiwera – literally means ‘water hot’ and is a small village just north of Auckland.
- Parakai – west of Auckland has hot pools and a fabulous water slide