Rotorua’s Free Natural Hot Springs
The intense geothermal activity in Rotorua means there is no lack of thermal pools. The natural hot springs merge with cold streams or rivers making the ideal temperature to swim or bathe in. Plus, you can even bathe comfortably on a cold day, which makes Rotorua a great spot to check out during New Zealand’s winter. Check out exactly where the free hot pools in Rotorua are in the list below!
So whatever the weather and whatever your budget, the hot pools in Rotorua are always there for free entertainment! Plus, we know plenty of other free and cheap things to do while visiting this geothermal city.
Once you’re done here and can’t get enough of those hot pools, chase the geothermal activity around New Zealand with these 7 Free Natural Hot Springs in New Zealand.
For now, let’s go over the best free hot pools in Rotorua so you can relax both body and wallet.
1. Kerosene Creek
First on our list of hot pools in Rotorua is the world-famous Kerosene Creek. 35 minutes from Rotorua and down a gravel road will take you to the thermal pool and waterfall at Kerosene Creek. The creek is popular not just for its geothermal activity but its beautiful surroundings.
Location: 28km (17 miles) south of Rotorua. Take State Highway 5, then travel about 2km (1.2 miles) down Old Waiotapu Road.
2. Wai-o-Tapu / The Bridge / The Secret Spot
When it comes to Rotorua hot pools, it does not get more popular thank this one. Funnily enough, it is supposed to be a secret. Get the remnants from the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal attraction by bathing in the hot pool formed by the hot Wai-O-Tapu stream meeting the cool river. It’s a thermal pool, completely natural and completely free!
Location: Just outside the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal park (under the bridge). 30km (19 miles) south of Rotorua just off State Highway 5.
3. Kuirau Park
No need to bring the togs; just dip your feet in. This free geothermal park in Rotorua has dedicated hot foot baths to make use of. Don’t dip your feet behind any of the fenced areas. That with hurt. Kuirau Park is situated in Rotorua town and is one of the 11 Free or Cheap Things to do in Rotorua.
Location: Along Pukuatua Street & Ranolf Street in Rotorua city centre.
4. Hot Water Beach (Te Rata Bay)
On the shores of Lake Tarawera, Hot Water Beach (also known as Te Rata Bay) is fed by a hot stream mixing with the cooler lake water. After a 5 to 6-hour hike to get there, you’re rewarded with a soothing geothermal hot pool experience on the beach. The stream water is burning hot, so keep on the outside of the large rocks that have been placed in a circle. Be sure to book your water taxi back to the start on this one-way hike.
Location: About 16km (10 miles) southeast of Rotorua. Take Tarawera Road to the Te Wairoa car park. From there, take the 15km (9.3-mile) hike on the Tarawera Trail to Te Rata Bay where the hot pools are on the beach in front of the Hot Water Beach Campsite.
5. Wairua Stream
Wairua Stream is a bit harder to get to as you have to get a boat across Lake Tarawera, making it a local’s paradise. It is near Te Rata Bay and is one of the most picturesque hot pools near Rotorua.
Location: About 25 minutes out of Rotorua down Spencer Road, Lake Tarawera. By boat, launch at Stoney Point and head straight across Lake Tarawera to the headlands on the right of Mt Tarawera. Go straight through these headlands to where the lake opens. Steer gently to starboard and make for the only beach in this area.
[UPDATE] Waterfall Spout Bath Wai-o-Tapu
[Update: It is no longer recommended to visit the Waterfall Spout Bath as it is on private land. Additionally, there are reports of bathers being sent to hospital with burns].
This hot spring is found along the road towards the Lady Knox Geyser. It’s rather muddy, as to be expected in Rotorua, but at least there is a waterfall to wash yourself. Find the entrance of the roadside where the bush has been cleared. Out of all the hot springs in Rotorua, this the muddiest, but guess what? It’s great for your skin. When was the last time you got access to a free mud pool?!
Location: On the Waiotapu Loop Road, turn onto The Avenue and the Waterfall Spout Bath is about 500m (550 yards) on your right.