Rotorua is renowned for its impressive geothermal activity. So much so, you’ll probably smell the town before you see it due to the sulphur that fills the air.
The smell of sulphur might not be a pleasing thought, but with it comes Rotorua’s famous hot pools, which offer relaxation, comfort, and wellness.
There is a wide range of hot pools in Rotorua, offering visitors the opportunity to kick back, soak in year-long warm waters, and try something new. Today, we’re going to show you the best hot pools in Rotorua.
What’s the best time to visit the Rotorua hot pools?
You can visit the hot pools in Rotorua year-round. Personally, my favourite time to soak in the hot pools (and to visit the geothermal parks, for that matter) is the cooler season. Nothing beats a hot pool session on a cold day! Plus, there tend to be less people in Rotorua in the lower seasons and accommodations offer better rates.
Hell’s Gate Rotorua
Location: State Highway 30, Tikitere, Rotorua 3010
With a name like Hell’s Gate Rotorua, it’s fair to say you can expect a lot from this geothermal park. Local Māori have used Hell’s Gate for over 800 years. Today, it draws us in with the promise of the only mud pools in Rotorua, which are said to have healing properties.
You can experience everything Hell’s Gate has to offer on the Hell’s Gate Experience, which is also part of the weekend getaway package. This package combines all three of Rotorua Hells Gate’s most popular experiences.
You’ll walk through the geothermal field to see an enormous hot water waterfall and mud volcano, bathe in the world-famous Rotorua mud pool for 20 minutes, and soak in the sulphur pools while enjoying panoramic views of the bubbling geothermal field.
Get 10% off when you book any of the experiences and book directly at Hell’s Gate Rotorua! Just enter the promo code WGNZ
Wai-Ariki Hot Springs & Spa
Location: 1047 Whakaue Street, Rotorua 3010
Wai Ariki Hot Springs & Spa is the newest spa in the area and it’s arguably the most luxurious hot springs in Rotorua. We visited Wai Ariki as soon as it opened and we quickly fell in love.
Wai Ariki Spa offers an adult-only (16+) experience in a beautiful award-winning setting that brilliantly combines Māori heritage and modern features, which includes the only saunas and steam baths in Rotorua.
At Wai Ariki, you can enjoy private geothermal experiences in mineral-rich baths and massages that use māori healing techniques. Alternatively, you can book a therapeutic package or make it a Rotorua romantic getaway.
The Restorative Journey starts with a waterfall shower, saunas (the only spa in Rotorua with not one but three saunas!), and a cold pool. You then move on to mineral pools that differ in temperatures, before finishing off with a mud face mask and steam bath.
Location: 1000 Hinemoa Street, Rotorua 3010
Polynesian Spa in Rotorua can be found right at the lake’s edge. It’s home to arguably the best hot pools in Rotorua and has something to offer everyone!
There are 28 Rotorua hot pools at Poly Spa within the Deluxe Lake Spa and the Pavilion pool area and they are fed by two springs. We love how the hot pools are split into two different sections, so you can experience different pools and plan a visit that suits your budget and needs.
The faintly acidic Priest Spring waters are perfect for healing aches and pains, while the alkaline waters from Rachel Spring help nourish the skin. Honestly, my skin has never felt better!
The Deluxe Lake Spa pools offer a natural setting covered in rocks and with lake views. Entry to these pools is included with a spa treatment booking. The Pavilion Pools tend to be a tad further away from the lake but are typically less busy. Meanwhile, the family pools are equipped with slides.
Make your visit a getaway by booking a Polynesian Spa Rotorua weekend with Weekend Getaways NZ which includes 2 nights accommodation, 1-hour relaxation massage, 1-hour AIX mud wrap, 30 minutes of soaking in the private pools and entry to the Deluxe Lake Spa.
If you are a group of six or more people and you’re looking for a combo of yoga, meditation, nutrition and soaking in hot pools, check out our Rotorua Retreat Getaway!
Secret Spot Rotorua
Location: 13/33 Waipa State Mill Road, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua 3073
The now not-so-secret-anymore Secret Spot at the Whakarewarewa Forest entrance features 12 cedar hot tubs in beautiful scenery. If you want to kick back under fern trees and rest your legs after a bike ride, this spot is perfect!
Enjoy the Secret Spot hot tubs with your partner or with a group (up to six people). If you don’t want to get too wet, you could always dip your feet in the footbaths at the cafe instead! If you’re a daring person, try alternating your hot soaks with their new cold pools. I hear it’s good for your bloody circulation, so definitely worth a try.
You might also be pleased to hear that the water of these Rotorua hot tubs comes from a freshwater spring in the forest and don’t smell like sulphur. Furry friends are also welcome on-site, so bring your dog along with you!
Get 10% off when you book directly with Secret Spot Rotorua! Just enter the promo code WGNZ10
Our Secret Spot weekend getaway includes a two-night stay and a 45-minute soaking session.
Waikite Valley Hot Pools
Location: 648 Waikite Valley Road, Waikite Valley 3077
Waikite Valley Hot Pools sits in the bush of Waikite Valley near Waimangu Valley and Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. It’s a little outside the town, but the scenery and attractions on offer are amazing.
For starters, Waikite is home to the Te Manaroa Spring – the largest single source of pure boiling water in New Zealand. You can see the spring along the Te Manaroa Spring Walkway and Eco-Trail.
You’ll also find some of the best hot pools in Rotorua here. There are five pools to soak in and a further four private pools.
Next to the pools is a 20-site campsite that provides powered and unpowered sites for motorhome and tent camping. The nightly price for Waikite Valley Hot Pools Campsite includes unlimited access to the thermal pools (excluding private pools).
You can enter the pools before Waikite opens to the public and after it’s closed!
Lake Rotoiti Hot Pool
Location: Lake Rotoiti, Tikitere, Rotorua 3074
Next up is Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools, which you could say are a hidden gem. Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools can be found in Manupirua Bay and are only accessible by boat or floatplane, giving the location a more exclusive feel.
Once you arrive, get changed in the changing rooms and select a mineral hot pool based on your temperature preferences. There are lots of different hot pools to choose from, most of which differ in size.
You can relax in a small hot tub by the jetty or kick back in a larger hot pool overlooking the water. After relaxing in the pool, you could head to the cafe and grab a bite to eat and a drink.
You could also book other activities such as boating, jet skiing, and scenic flights.
Free Hot Pools Rotorua
We’ve shown you the best paid-for hot pools for a Rotorua weekend getaway, so now we’re going to show you the best free hot pools in Rotorua.
Relaxing in natural hot springs amongst nature is something we love to do and you can do it too in many locations. However, please be careful when using free hot pools because they are untreated, meaning no chemicals are added to kill off risks.
Here are our recommendations for your weekend in Rotorua:
Location: Old Waiotapu Road, Waiotapu 3073
For a long time, only locals experienced Kerosene Creek. However, things changed (presumably because of the internet) and now this spot is the most-loved free hot spring in the area.
So, why is Kerosene Creek so popular? Well, to put it simply, it’s incredibly cool. This spot isn’t only a hot spring, it’s also a river with a waterfall. You can relax in the stream, swim around the base of the waterfall, or sit at the top of it.
You’ll find the creek off the road to Taupo.
Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera
Location: Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve, Waimangu 3076
The Hot Water Beach in Coromandel isn’t the only one in New Zealand. North Island has four and you can find one at Lake Tarawera.
The hot spring here is delightful because the hot water is channelled into the lake, creating a pleasant temperature that doesn’t burn. These free hot springs are only accessible on foot and by boat, and a Department of Conservation campsite is nearby.
Therefore, you might want to turn your visit into a Rotorua getaway. During your visit, you can also hike the Tarawera Trail (15km) and take part in watersports!
Te Wairua Stream
Location: On the Tarawera Trail
To complete your Rotorua weekend on Lake Tarawera, head over to the Te Wairua Stream. This secluded hot spring is approximately an hour’s walk along the Tarawera Trail from Hot Spring Beach.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this spring is serene, pristine, and incredibly peaceful. After, walk another four hours to Tarawera Landing or return to Hot Water Beach.
Having said that, you’ll likely be far too relaxed to keep following the trail!
Kuirau Park Foot Baths
Location: 2 Kuirau Street, Rotorua 3010
Kuirau Park is one of my favourite places to visit in Rotorua. This geothermal park features a colourful lake, Rotorua mud pools, a steaming lake, and some of the most interesting thermal pools in Rotorua.
There are also warm foot baths dotted around the park. We recommend having a stroll and visiting a few different spots. We last visited this spot on a bike ride and soaking our feet in the warm water pools was a real treat.
Hot and Cold Pool
Location: Waiotapu Loop Road, Waiotapu 3073
The final spot we have on our list of the best hot pools in Rotorua is the Hot and Cold Pool, which admittedly, we’re still looking for!
The name of this pool refers to a place under a bridge near Waiotapu where a cold freshwater stream and a hot thermal stream collide. The result? A perfect combination of heat to suit anyone having a soak.
If you find one spot too hot, simply move upstream to cooler waters.
Our list of the best hot pools in Rotorua has shown you all the places you should prioritise visiting if you’re seeking a weekend filled with relaxation, warmth, and unique experiences.
For us, the best thing about visiting Rotorua is the variety of options on offer. There are countless hot springs to enjoy, multiple Rotorua getaway packages to choose from, and options that suit every budget.
All you have to do now is book the perfect weekend! Check out all of our Rotorua Getaways here! And if you can’t find what you’re after, send us a message and we’ll put together your very personal getaway!