My favourite thing to do after a long day in the saddle (or a blast down a ski slope) is to sit and soak in a hot pool.
As Kay (my wife) has discovered, a common theme runs throughout the trips we take and the places we visit: Rotorua: MTB and hot pools; Taupo: MTB, skiing and hot pools; Maruia: cycle touring and hot pools; Hanmer: St James Cycleway, skiing and you guessed it… hot pools.
I’m not sure why hot pools have this pull on me but like many Kiwis I never miss an opportunity – togs or in the buff – for a bathe.
So where is my favourite hot pool in New Zealand? Well, earlier this year, my family were checking out the Kauri Coast Cycleway, in the Far North. The second night we stayed at a place called Kaikohe and 5km north of the town is a small place called Ngawha, home to what I’ve come to consider is New Zealand’s best-kept hot pool secret. (Not any longer)!
Owned by a local Maori family these pools are as authentic as you can get. With a rustic exterior and laidback staff, they offer the perfect environment for a good soak.
There are a number of different pools, each with their own character, temperature of water, mineral element and healing powers. The Tanemahuta pool shares a name with the largest living kauri in New Zealand, the Doctor pool possesses medicinal mud that you can smear on your body while soaking, and the Waikato is named after the beer.
Initially I found the sandy bottom of the pools a little off putting, but the natural bubbles permeating through the sand, massaging my feet and bouncing up my legs soon won me over.
Next to the Taniwha pool is a warning about its feisty, dark black waters. Kay was hesitant about stepping into this pool and rightly so because she slipped while getting in…right into my waiting arms! The irony made us think this was a pool with a very cheeky character!
So, if you find yourself travelling through the Northland town of Kaikohe, make sure you stop at the Waiariki Pools, Ngawha Springs. The entrance fee isn’t going to break the bank: for $4 it’s the best value pools I’ve ever been to and at that rate you can even afford to shout your mother-in-law!
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