Bathe in a Hot Spring for Free!
Want to relax in one of New Zealand’s free natural hot springs? There are many free hot springs in New Zealand to enjoy. Finding them is just half the fun…
One awesome thing about being on the Pacific Ring of Fire is that there are natural hot springs in New Zealand we can enjoy for free! The geothermal activity is not so far under our feet in some areas, like Rotorua, where the Earth’s crust gets thinner heating up water near the surface. It is when these hot streams reach cold rivers that the water gets to a nice temperature to bathe in. Another way the natural hot pools are made is by volcanic underground reservoirs heating up water. Some of this water escapes and cools towards the Earth’s surface.
So, after that science lesson, here are the places where you can see the geothermal activity in action in New Zealand…
1. Hot Water Beach
Probably the most well known New Zealand hot springs, these hot pools are either fun or totally irritating because you dig them yourself. When the tide goes out, dig! Hot Water Beach is located in the Coromandel region. The free hot springs can be accessed at low tide between the rocky outcrop on the beach and the small rocky island.
Location: Coromandel, North Island
2. Wai-O-Tapu / The Bridge
Geothermal activity gets a bit crazy in Rotorua. So this is just one of several natural hot pools around the city. Check out where else you can take a hot dip in the 5 Free Natural Hot Pools in Rotorua. Wai-O-Tapu / The Bridge hot springs can be found under the road bridge just outside the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Park about 30km (19 miles) south of Rotorua just off State Highway 5.
Location: Rotorua, North Island
3. Spa Park
You will either be sweating in the hot streams with their mini waterfalls or freezing from the Waikato River that it runs into. Someplace in between is just right. We don’t know how the guy in the picture below is surviving this hot waterfall! Spa Park can be found down Spa Road in Taupo. Follow the walkway from the Spa Park car park down towards the river and you’ll see the pools under the footbridge.
Location: Taupo, North Island
4. Mangatutu Hot Springs Campsite
Ok, the structure of the hot pool is manmade, but the water is drawn from a natural hot stream. What’s more, it’s a free hot spring in New Zealand. To find it, head down Puketitiri Road for 40km (25 miles) from Napier. Then follow Pakaututu Road for 9km and turn onto Makahu Road for a further 10km. You’ll then find these free hot pools and campsite. For more free campsites in New Zealand, check out these free camping spots in the North Island and South Island.
Location: Kaweka Forest Park, Napier, North Island
5. Welcome Flat Hot Pools
One of the most remote known hot pools, you have to walk on the Copland Track for about 7 hours to get to it from the nearest road! With the view of the surrounding South Island snowcapped mountains, we would say it’s worth the trek. Find the start of the Copland Track about 26km (16 miles) south of Fox Glacier on State Highway 6. The track is well-signposted from the Karangarua River bridge. There not many free hot pools in the South Island so make sure to note this one.
Location: Copland River, near Fox Glacier, South Island
6. Kawhia Springs (Te Puia Springs)
Like Hot Water Beach, you need to dig your own hot pool in the sand. Find the springs in the town of Kawhia by following Tainui Street then follow the signs from there. The hot pool location can only be accessed at low tide. These free hot springs in New Zealand are part of an awesome road trip you can do from Waitomo. Find out more in our 15 Free Things to Do in Waitomo.
Location: Waitomo, North Island
7. Kaitoke Hot Springs
Wrapping up this list of awesome New Zealand hot springs is Kaitoke Hot Springs. Great Barrier Island, off the shore of Auckland, has the natural hot spring of Kaitoke. A ferry or flight can be taken from Auckland to access Great Barrier Island. To learn more about Great Barrier Island and how to find the hot springs, check out Great Barrier Island – Guide for Backpackers.
Location: Great Barrier Island, Auckland