Wild Hot Springs when you Self drive New Zealand

Picture yourself relaxing in one of our naturally formed hot springs, surrounded by lush native bush or towered over by magnificent snow capped mountains - maybe you found yourself soaking in a spring that formed in the middle of a wild beach. If you Self drive New Zealand, not only is this possible, but better still – IT'S ABSOLUTELY FREE!

All of the volcanic regions in New Zealand have hot springs that occur naturally, and with more than 60 ‘wild’ (non-commercial and in their natural state) springs scattered around New Zealand, it's worth making sure you have time to visit when you Self drive New Zealand. Here we review the most popular of these springs, share some health and safety tips and pinpoint some of the more remote springs that are worthy of exploration.

New Zealand's Top Free Natural Hot Springs

Map of New Zealand Hot Springs
Hot Water Beach - Coromandel Peninsula

With a spade and a small amount of effort, a couple of hours either side of high tide, provides you with your own geothermal heated spa pool. This natural upwelling of geothermal water rising from deep below the sand combined with one of the worlds most beautiful beaches makes Hot Water Beach makes this the most famous New Zealand natural springs.

Getting there: Along New Zealand's Pacific coast and just south of Mercury Bay at the northeast tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. It is up the coast from the popular beaches of Pauanui and Tairua.

Safety: The hot springs are located not far from the sea so even at low tide you can get caught unaware by the large breaking waves. The Beach is also known for its dangerous rip currents and signs at the beach advise swimmers not to swim within 50 meters either side of the off-shore rocks (opposite the springs). 

Hot Water Beach Hot Pools
Kerosine Creek - South of Rotorua.

Kerosine Creek is a beautiful hot stream with a waterfall right in the middle of lush native bush, thousands of little bubbles are forced down a rock face (waterfall) and jet up to the surface causing a natural spa. The creek runs over an old lava flow and heats, and here you can relax under the warm waterfalls in two naturally-heated pools.


Getting there: Drive south along the highway towards Taupo from Rotorua and approximately 30km south of Rotorua (just south of Lake Rotowhero) turn into the Old Waiotapu Road, which is just after the Rainbow Mountain. Drive down the road about 2.2 kilometers, where there is a strip of grass and you will see a path leading downstream, take the walk to the hot springs.


Safety: The water levels and temperature changes day to day, especially during and after rain, always check water temperatures before entering. It is advised not to submerge your head.

Hot Waterfalls at Kerosene Creek
Mangatutu Hot Springs - near Napier (Kaweka Forest Park)

The Mangatutu Hot Springs has two steam vents, with the more accessible being reached from the carpark. The pools themselves are made of fiberglass and hold up to six people comfortably. They are perched on a cliff face overlooking the wildly beautiful Mohaka River. Sodium-rich hot water is collected from the resurgence of a hot stream via a PVC pipe so you can adjust the temperature by filling fresh hot water into the tub.

Getting there: From Napier drive to the Kaweka State Forest. Pass through Patoka and Puketitiri and then onto metal (stone chip) road. Keep going until you see a sign, shortly after you will come to a car park and BBQ area, park and follow the track down towards the Mohaka river until you find the pools. This area makes for great camping.

Safety: You will need to travel for nearly one hour on a gravel access road that is unsuited to larger campervans and caravans so please drive slowly. The track down to the hot-pools can be slippery when wet

Hotpools near Napier
Te Rata Bay Hot Springs - Lake Tarawera.

On the very southern arm of Lake Tarawera there is a secluded beach, (boat access only) where a series of thermal springs gently rise through the lake-bed warming the water and creating steam shrouded cliffs. Here you can swim or soak in a natural thermal rock pools and picnic on this secluded and beautiful part of New Zealand. (a constant 38°C/100°F) - it is a wonderful way to relax and unwind.

Getting there: Lake Tarawera is located 18 kilometres to the east of Rotorua, and five kilometres from its volcanic namesake Mt Tarawera. A 15 minute water taxi is required to get to the secluded beach.

Te Rata Bay Hot Springs - Lake Tarawera
Kaitoke & Peach Tree Hot Springs - Great Barrier Island.

Kaitoke Hot Springs:  This an easy flat 45 minute from the road and the track is well managed. Your walk takes you through picturesque palm tree forests and over a boardwalked wetlands area offering beautiful views of the mountains before encountering the Kaitoke hot pools where you can take a dip.

Peachtree Springs: For a really good soak head to the Peachtree Springs. It is past Kaitoke springs and is a more substantial pool dug by early gum diggers. It is best to get directions from a local.

Getting there. The best way to get to Great Barrier Island is to catch one of the 20-minute flights from Auckland airport. A ferry service is available but services can be restrictive to those on a limited timetable.

Kaitoke & Peach Tree Hot Springs
Kawhia Springs (Te Puia Springs) - Near Waitomo

After spending the morning exploring Waitomo’s wonderful glowworm caves, this makes for a great afternoon treat. At two hours either side of low tide you can dig yourself a sandy spa pool. When you get down to a certain depth (no more than 20cm) geothermally heated water bubbles up through the black sand creating a hot water pool - perfect for relaxing after an invigorating swim.

If low tide falls at late afternoon, why not take a soak and watch the sun go down.

Getting there: Take State Highway 31 from Otorohanga (close to Waitomo) to the coastal village of Kawhia. Then follow the signs to Ocean beach.

Kawhia Springs (Te Puia Springs) - Near Waitomo
Welcome Flat Hot pools – (20km South of Fox Glacier )

The best for last - Welcome Flat Hot Pools is on the Copland River and has a particularly special outlook, it is located in a valley surrounded by beautiful snow capped peaks and native forest. If you happen to be here in November you can sit in the pools and watch avalanches cascade down the opposite face while sipping on a glass of wine. There are Four pools of varying temperatures that have been dug from a large mud fan. The pools are a couple of minutes walk from the Department of Conversation hut and campsite.

Getting there: You can't drive to these hot pools and that’s while they are special, the closest road is seven hours walk on the Copland Track.

Safety: The track can be dangerous in bad weather and trampers need to be fully prepared. - people have drowned trying to cross flooded rivers. Don't attempt it without good clothing and extra food should you get trapped by heavy rain - Weather forecasts should never be relied on.

Welcome Flat Hot pools
Further Reading & Information

Picture yourself relaxing in one of our naturally formed hot springs, surrounded by lush native bush or towered over by magnificent snow-capped mountains – maybe you found yourself soaking in a spring that formed in the middle of a wild beach. If you Self drive New Zealand, not only is this possible, but better still – IT’S ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Would you like to visit a natural hot spring when on holiday in New Zealand? To receive a free, no obligation, personalised itinerary - just follow the link and answer a few brief questions   

Other articles that may be of interest

Elizabeth's Favourite New Zealand Places

Top Tourist Attractions in the North Island of New Zealand

The Best New Zealand Beaches, Lakes and Rivers for Summer Swimming

Best Beaches around the Coromandel 

Updated on the 26th November 2018 by Brent

Tags
New Zealand
Adventure
Nature
Beaches
Hot Pools
Brent Narbey
Submitted by
Brent Narbey
: 21 May 2013 (Last updated: 30 Nov 2018)

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