When It’s Cool, Find A Hot Pool

In the darkest days of winter, when there’s frost on the ground and snow in the air, surely there’s nothing better than lowering yourself into a hot, steaming hot pool, surrounded by magnificent scenery.

The Polynesian Spa in Rotorua has the country’s original geothermal mineral pools, offering experiences from a sumptuous soak overlooking  the lake, to a full day spa treatment. If you’re fresh from the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, soak those sore muscles at the Tokaanu Hot  Pools near Tūrangi and DeBretts Hot Springs in Taupō. There, the kids can splash, play and slide while you relax in the large hot water pools  – or book a private pool for a relaxing experience. A short drive north, at the adults-only (age 14 and over) Wairakei Terraces & thermal health spa, you can see the beautiful natural silica terraces that deliver the geothermal water to your pool.

On the South Island, there’s no going past the famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. The original hexagonal pools of old still at its  centre, the complex has beautifully landscaped cascade pools with waterfalls, sulphur pools, children’s water play area and pool, and a  network of hot pools that are fun and warm for all ages. And if you can stand the winter cold just long enough, head for the thrilling hydroslides, from the SuperBowl to the newest attraction, the Conical Thrill.

For something truly special, watch the winter sun rise over New Brighton Beach from He Punga Taimoana, which has five salt water hot  pools, a steam room and sauna. Being winter, the advantage is that sunrise isn’t too early and, in the cold, the reward all the better.

Besides the sunrise session, which must be booked, the hot pools are open daily for all from 10am until evening. If you head a hour from  Christchurch City towards the snowy Southern Alps you will find the newly opened Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa, located in Methven, near  Mt Hutt Ski Area. Sourced from the mountains, powered by the sun these beautiful pools are a first of their kind as they are heated by a  spectacular array of solar panels. Simply arrive and escape with their swim-up bar in the adults-only ‘Tranquillity Pools’ or discover their  family friendly experience with several pools fit for the whole family, including a star-lit cave, crazy river, ‘manu’ jumping zone and water guns.

Ōpuke’s mountain views are possibly only rivalled by those at Tekapo Springs, 720 metres above sea level. Overlooking an alpine winter  wonderland, you may just be there at the right time to sit in a hot pool surrounded by snow. Here, three hot pools (including an adults-only  space) are filled from a pure underground source near the township. There’s also an aqua play area, though at this time of year, it may be  better to go to the ice skating rink next door instead.