It's almost guaranteed, type into Google: Top things to do in New Zealand, and along side the likes of a visit to Milford Sound, Hobbiton and Abel Tasman as well as a bungy in Queenstown or sky diving in Taupo. You'll come across The Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown, a spot made famous by its plethora of Instagram photos over the last few years. An experience like no other guaranteed, but is it worth the hype?
Getting to the pools is super easy, located only a short 10 minute drive from downtown Queenstown. Head north along Gorge Road until you reach the Edith Cavell Bridge, as you cross the bridge you have now joined Arthurs Point Road. Follow it till you get to the pools on your right hand side. Here's the quick link for your Sat Nav
Off street Parking can be a little hard to see due to the development of some new apartment buildings, so slow down.
I wasn't kidding when I said that the list of services provided at the pools is vast. For that reason the title of this segment is a direct link to the official Onsen package and pricing portion of their website. Take the time out to navigate it yourself, choosing your package and having a browse of their world class services. Like always when you find yourself booking an activity as prominent as this, the price tag matches its prestige.
THE ONSEN HOT POOLS - Our Experience and are they worth it?
Opened in 2007, The Onsen Hot pools are a proudly kiwi owned and operated business only minutes from the heart of Queenstown. They have aimed for, and achieved creating a uniquely kiwi twist on a ancient Japanese bathing tradition. The word 'Onsen' actually means Hot Springs in Japanese. Although the facility is famous world wide for its Instagramable cedar wood Hot pools which are situated on the cliff edge overlooking the Shotover River, Onsen boasts a large array of different relaxation packages and services for a full bodied experience, for both Men and Women.
The experience starts from the car park. As you navigate the metal steps in amongst the trees leading down to the facility you get your first views of the river and surrounding mountains. The step down from street level has a somewhat relaxing, worry dissolving feel to it.
The entrance, reception and waiting area were beautifully presented. On opening the doors you are met by 3 distinctive things. The warm welcoming greeting from the staff behind the counter, the sound of the Zen like music playing softly throughout the facility and the smell of burning candles. Even before stepping foot in a pool or lying down on a bed ready for treatments, you feel pampered.
Photo Credit: Queenstown Interiors
After signing in and choosing which beverage and ice cream flavor you'd like you make your way to the waiting room to have your name called out. It's here that you get uninterrupted views over the River below. Luckily for us we were on the first session time of the day so there wasn't any waiting for us, didn't stop me checking out the waiting room and view though. We got guided down the stairs by a staff member and showed to our room. Room 3...WOW!! As she swung the door open it was clear why this experience is so highly rated.
A large semi open room with a beautifully spacious cedar wood tub situated in the middle. A skillfully crafted 2 tier deck encased it. Each room has its own fresh water shower and changing space. Our food and drink presented on a wooden tray had already made it down there before us which was quite impressive. Just like reception, the sound of the relaxing music made the experience all the more tranquil.
We've all seen the Instagram photos and know what the inside of the pools looks like, however! That's just it...they're just photos. The real pleasure of visiting this spot is the sensory explosion of sounds, smells, touch, sights and tastes that you don't get from behind a camera.
The smell of the surrounding flora or in our case freshly cut grass, the sounds of the music softly playing. The feel of the fresh cold autumn air against the exposed parts of your body as you sit in the hot pool. The sight of the neighboring mountain range as well as the powerful Shotover river below. And of course the taste of your morning beverage in collaboration with your Gelato. Paradise!!!
Myself and Janne very much believe in ticking these types of experiences off our list to see how they match up against their more than frequently fabricated social media counterpart. In the case of the Onsen Pools, the experience far surpasses what we expected and had seen online. Its a truly beautiful, tranquil spot located so close to the Hussle and bustle of Queenstown. It' a spot that really does allow you to switch off, a great starter or finisher to any day and a great way to unwind and reset. Book yourself in with your loved one for a truly magical, intimate experience like no other.
ONSEN HOT POOLS ✔
Thank You for reading