Lord of the Springs: New Zealand’s Top Ten Best Day Spas

Underneath New Zealand’s pastoral landscape lies two tectonic plates of the earth’s crust. Whenever these two come into contact with one another, the resulting geothermal activity leads to warm water bubbling up through the crust, thus forming quite a few natural hot springs.

Thanks to the rocks that the water has to pass through, these hot pools are rich in all sorts of minerals and have led to many Kiwi’s swearing by the medical benefits of soaking in them. And some, of course, simply enjoy the simple pleasure of a nice, hot bath.

Regardless of whether you’re up for a full day’s worth of pampering or are simply in need of soothing warm waters for weary limbs (probably after a day’s hike at one of New Zealand’s natural attractions), the following day spas are worth checking out:

1. The Spa at Millbrook.

The Spa at Millbrook

Located in Queenstown’s renowned luxury resort, The Spa is consistently hailed as one of the world’s most luxurious in its category. Last year, it was the only Australasian institution to make it to the global Top Ten Hotel Spas list.

Situated amidst the breathtaking mountains and lakes in the region, The Spa offers a wide range of luxurious and cutting-edge treatments for men and women alike.

The best part is, should you somehow be able to try all of their spa packages, the Millbrook Resort is also home to other attractions you can happily explore, such as four restaurants, a 27-hole golf course, and a health and fitness centre.

2. Onsen Hot Pools at Queenstown.

Onsen Hot Pools at Queenstown

In Japan, onsen resorts are where people go to soak in natural hot springs amidst views of the pristine countryside. This Queenstown day spa replicates that experience by providing its guests with private plunge pools filled with pure spring water against a backdrop of fresh mountain air and lots of unspoiled scenery.

Open from 11 am to 10 pm daily, Queenstown’s Onsen Hot Pools is great for submerging one’s body in the deep penetrating warmth of the natural springs after a long day’s sightseeing.

3. Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa.

Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa

Not only is this the only thermal spa located outside Europe, but it is also one of New Zealand’s oldest spas. From its humble origins as a hot pool for the local Maori tribe, it has now expanded to over 26 hot mineral spring pools, all of which promise a full-body soak in warm, relaxed bliss.

The NZ$4.5 million facelift it recently underwent doesn’t hurt either, with the new facilities tastefully heralding a unique relaxation experience.

4. Tekapo Springs Day Spa.

Tekapo Springs Day Spa

Located at the base of Mt. John and near Lake Tekapo, the Tekapo Springs Resorts hosts a bevy of delights that range from a skating rink and tube park in the winter to three-tiered hot pools landscaped in local greywacke rock.

The latter are the spa’s main draw, with each pool having benched seating to allow bathers to soak in the varying temperatures (ranging from 40 degrees to 36 degrees Celsius) more comfortably.

5. Chuan Spa in Auckland.

Chuan Spa in Auckland

The Langham hotel chain has long been a hallmark for stylish luxury, and the Auckland branch is no exception.

The hotel’s spa takes its name from the Chinese word for “a serene course of water,” and hydrotherapy is at the core of its luxurious treatments. From circular “snail” showers to ice fountains, all 30 of the Chuan Spa’s traditional Chinese relaxation rituals make it the chicest urban spa in the area.

6. Queensland’s Matakauri Lodge and Spa.

Queensland’s Matakauri Lodge and Spa

About a ten-minute drive away from Queenstown, this Lake Wakatipu property recently reopened after extensive renovations and now features a classic, contemporary style that mirrors the sublime beauty of the alpine panorama surrounding it.

After a couple hours spent soaking in the hot spring pools on the grounds, you can choose to indulge in restful slumber in any of this five-star resort’s 11 spacious suites.

7. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa

The Spa at Hanmer Springs is right smack in the heart of geothermal country and is arguably NZ’s most popular alpine spa with its many thermal rock and sulphur pools.

Its wide range of therapeutic beauty treatments are what sets it apart from the other spas in the area. Especially popular are the chocolate treatments, such as the chocolate regenerative care facial and the hot cocoa relaxing body treatment.

8. Christchurch’s Champs-Elysees Beauty Day Spa.

Christchurch’s Champs-Elysees Beauty Day Spa

When a spa shares a name with the world-famous luxury shopping arcade in Paris, you can bet that great things are in store for its customers.

Set in beautiful, tranquil Merivale, this day spa’s pamper packages are comprised of decadent facials and specialty massages all designed to restore one’s body and mind to tiptop wellness.

9. Franz Josef Glacier’s Amaia Luxury Spa.

Franz Josef Glacier’s Amaia Luxury Spa

The Franz Josef Glacier township is characterized by its lovely nature bush and stunning mountain views, with the Amaia Luxury Spa offering different kinds of skin and body therapies to restore and balance your skin’s needs.

The Lomi-Lomi massage therapies on offer are also worth availing of should you need to smooth away tension from the body.

10. Rotorua’s Hells Gate Geothermal Park and Mud Spa.

Rotorua’s Hells Gate Geothermal Park and Mud Spa
Image Credit: NewZealand.com

Don’t let its name fool you. This spectacular geothermal reserve and mud spa complex offers all sorts of facials and massages that are nothing short of heavenly, especially when coupled with a dip in one of their many hot spring pools.

The Kiwi’s like to say “Kia Ora,” by way of greeting. Apparently, it’s Maori for “Be well, be healthy.” With so many award-winning spas set amidst the world’s most beautiful scenery, they certainly are serious about living up to that expression.

How to Understand the “Kiwi Talk”

“I am going to the dairy. Do you want anything?”

Just give yourself a minute to process the sentence. It was said in English, but with a twist of Kiwi. Do you know what “dairy” means?

You will likely to bump into a Kiwi after stepping away from one of New Zealand’s international airports. I am not talking about the species of bird.

I am referring to the inhabitants of New Zealand. Kiwis tend to speak in a quick manner with the utilization of slang. Once they open their mouths, confusion boils up into the immigrant’s mind.

Consider studying the dynamics of how Kiwis talk in order to understand them better. Start by listening to their unique intonation. Every sentence sounds like they are asking a question.

In the workplace, you may notice that the orders set by your boss sound like requests. Avoid confusion by asking the person to slow down every once in awhile.

The second element that you must focus on is the distinct accent. Imitate the Kiwi accent by moving the base of your tongue farther in your mouth. You will notice that it sounds like you are saying “ahh” instead of “uhh”.

Stretching the vowels is they key! For instance, the vowel “e” transforms into “ee”. Ten minutes shall be muttered as “teen meenuts”. To get used to this, I suggest that you listen to local radio broadcasts and watch New Zealand films online.  

The last element is the slang. Watch this short video to get a glimpse of what is to come:

Once you get use to these informal words, it will make sense to slip “dairy” or “chilly bin” into the conversation. Here are some of the popular terms in alphabetical order:

1. Chill Bin

You do not throw your trash in a chilly bin. Do not be misled by the last word. Chilly bin is the Kiwi version of cooler or cool box. It is where you put your soda along with the cubes of ice.

2. Dairy

Image Credit: Newzild

No! Your Kiwi friend is not talking about the creamy dairy products. Instead, he or she is pointing out a corner store. New Zealand’s corner stores used to sell their own brands of milk in the past. Corner store is synonymous to our convenience store.  

3. Hangi


Hangi is the traditional Maori method of cooking food. It uses heated rocks buried into a pit oven. The methods adds an incredible flavor to the food.

4. Jandals

You can probably infer the meaning of the word! This is the Kiwi slang for slippers, flip-flops, or Japanese sandals. When someone says that you must “give the full jandal to the car’s accelerator”. That person wants you to give it your all.

5. Sweet as

Sweet as
Image Credit: The Loquacious Letter

“Sweet as” is the Kiwi’s spin to the word: awesome. Any words synonymous to satisfaction, delight, or agreement can be substituted by this term. Try to use it when someone asks about your day.

6. Wop-wops

I have to admit, “wop-wops” sounds like a silly candy. It is not! Wop-wops are remote places, which are far from the civilization. This could count for almost anything outside of Auckland.

If you desire to speak English in the manner that is spoken in New Zealand, you need to adapt their specific pronunciations as well as their slang terms. Good luck!