By: Blonde Two

Most people who have visited New Zealand have enjoyed a soak in the Polynesian hot pools at Rotorua but did you know that you can also get your share of the thermal goodness (and whiff of the sulphur) at other locations around New Zealand? Mr B2 and I have enjoyed New Zealand hot pools at Franz Josef on the South Island (a welcome contrast to the Franz Josef glacier) and now at Ngawah Springs near to Kaikohe at the top of the North Island.

When I first visited New Zealand in 1986 (typing a date starting with ’19’ feels odd these days) hot pools were all of the rough and ready kind. With wooden handrails, minimal changing rooms and something that was hopefully gravel on the bottom of the pools. I remember my New Zealand first hot pool dip well, I was slim, bikinied and totally overcome by the whole experience. ‘Your poo will smell of sulphur when you get home!’ My cousin told me, and she was right, but I didn’t mind, I was a hot pool addict after one visit.

Fast forward to the same spa in 2007, the pools were still there (now with metal handrails and no gravel-type-substance), I still wore a bikini (although my body now had childbearing handrails of its own) and everything was very, very luxurious. Don’t get me wrong, the experience was still wonderful and I wouldn’t turn a visit down in a million years, but there was a tiny part of me that longed for the basic changing room and stinging sulphur fumes of my first trip.

I hadn’t expected to find any hot pools at all on my trip to Northland New Zealand with Mr B2 and so was thrilled when local knowledge proved invaluable and revealed the hot springs at Ngawha. We were warned about their ‘organic’ and ‘rustic’ nature but that only encouraged me, and I wasn’t disappointed, my visit to Ngawha turned out to be the highlight of my trip. We paid a very minimal fee, changed in separate communal rooms (I was a bit worried about Mr B2 at this point) and exited into the pool area without any idea of which pool to try first. The sensible thing seemed to be to go for the most popular so we stepped gingerly into the rather crowded, greenish, opaque water and hoped to find a bit of space. We needn’t have worried, the six or so people in the pool all moved up and started chatting immediately.

We ended up having such a fantastic multi-cultural time chatting that we only tried three of Ngawha’s pools. Plenty of soaking was done and plenty of topics covered. I tell you… New Zealand hot pools are pure magic!

Image: Ngawha Springs