Half of the world might be enjoying summer but hear down under, we’re freezing our cute bums off! If not for snowboarding and snowball fights, I would leave my dear New Zealand 3 months every year (June, July and August) to avoid winter and chase summer somewhere else. Haha! Luckily, there’s a lot of hot springs and pools (especially the natural – the sulfur-smelling ones!) around Kiwiland to warm our sexy bods. Here’s my five favorite hot pools and springs in New Zealand’s South Island.
I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve been to Hanmer Springs! This is my number one favorite. Driving to Hanmer Springs has become a tradition for me and my friends every winter to attend an annual salsa event (though I sadly missed it this year! ) But since it’s just a short drive from where we live at the moment, Pepper and I just go whenever we want! 😉
Hanmer Hot Springs is located in the small town of Hanmer Springs in the Canterbury region, roughly an hour and a half drive from Christchurch International Airport. It is probably the biggest springs in the South Island, having a number of pools at different sizes and temperatures. With pool temp varying from 30 to 40 degrees Celsius (the hottest and smells like rotten egg but the best for the body apparently!). The hot springs were produced by the fractured rock bed along the Hanmer Fault. It is recommended for everyone, whether travelling alone, a couple, group of friends and families. Very family friendly, it has dedicated pools for the kiddos to enjoy. There is a restaurant, a wellness facility with spa and massage services. A range of activities such as ATV driving, horseback riding, bungy jumping and so on can also be enjoyed aside from the soothing warmth of the hot springs and pools.
Another AWESOME tip: Mt Lyford Skifield is also a short drive from Hanmer Springs! Awesome way to end a day of skiing and snowboarding is to soak your tired body in their amazing hot pools and springs!
PS. I really love Hanmer Springs and Pepper as well. We celebrated one of our monthly anniversaries (“monthsary”) at Hanmer! Feel free to check it out: Hanmer Springs weekend for our monthsary.
Another favorite and my top for relaxation plus amazing views. The views are one of a kind (million-dollar view!) and if you’re really lucky, it’s possible to get some snow in winter. Imagine that! You’re enjoying and relaxing in the hot springs, watching the snow-capped mountains from a distance with the beautiful Lake Tekapo and it’s snowing! What more can you ask for?!
But don’t think that there’s only a beautiful view in winter. There’s a beautiful view at Tekapo all-year-round. Lake Tekapo itself is beautiful. Lots of activities too within the facility and around Tekapo. In winter, the skating rink and tube park are open. The water slide is open almost all year round. After a few hours of doing such activities, a soak is just perfect for those aching muscles!
The Sky observatory is just around the corner as well as the hike to Mount St. John. With some good restaurants, cafes and the spectacular scenery (makes me feel like I live in a painting, really!), how can one be bored at Lake Tekapo?
PS. On a clear night, there’s no need to go to the observatory to go stargazing, you can just go have a look outside your hotel/motel/bakcpacker/campervan/tent and you can see the millions of stars and constellations!
Franz Josef is known for the fantastic Glacier walks and hikes. It was exactly what I did when I was there! We had a helicopter take us to the famous Franz Josef Glaciers. It took us almost the whole day up there after being stuck due to some rain. But all was fantastic anyway! Just check out the photo below as I was inside some ice formation!
It was so much fun that I only felt the tiredness and achy muscles on our way back to town center. Good thing our glacier package included a ticket to the glacier hot pools. It was the only solution! The one and only perfect solution after a fun day at the glaciers. The facility was quite small but cozy. Surrounded by silver ferns and some native New Zealand greenery, there’s nothing more tranquil than sitting there and soaking your tired body.
If hot springs and isolation is what you’re looking for then Maruia Springs is the one for you! Located along Maruia River (in the middle of nowhere). This is as natural as you can get when you say hot springs here in the south island. With pools formed from smooth rocks gathered from the adjacent river and springs naturally heated with the backdrop of the mountains, this is relaxation at it’s most rustic yet finest form! (haha!) The accommodation might be a bit small and on the high end of your budget but I reckon it’s a little price to pay for the benefits you get in return. (Water from the springs is known to be beneficial to having smooth skin!)
There’s some choices for rooms at Maruia Springs and we’ve always opted for the Japanese room! We love the massage chair that comes with it!!
Since it’s in the middle of nowhere and no other option for eating (unless you bring your own food), they have a fabulous, FABULOUS restaurant that serves delicious and authentic Japanese cuisine. There’s also some international mains and desserts that will definitely satisfy the palette. Just have a look at our orders on our Anniversary weekend!
Need I say more?! It’s almost a 2-hour drive from Christchurch International Airport. Some really good views on the way as well!
Queenstown! Known for being the adventure capital of New Zealand (or the WORLD?!), Queenstown won’t take a back seat when it comes to pampering you after a day (or week) packed with it’s Adrenalin rushing activities! The onsen hot pools is just a short drive from Queenstown Town Centre. You can drive there or they can pick you up when you book. Time slots can be booked with different packages like snacks, wine or massages. I went there on Christmas Day of 2013 with one of my bestfriends! We were on a road trip around the South Island and it was a great way to relax before the shenanigans and parties at night! Oh, and check out that view!!
There are heaps more natural springs and hot pools in the South Island and we’ve been planning to go and check them out! Most requires a few (or more) hours hike! But we don’t mind! Pepper and I are always up for adventures and it’s always a reward after the hard work (hike!)
Feel free to inform us of your favorites as well! Hope the list of our favorites can help you on your trip to New Zealand’s South Island!
Tin & Pepper