Relaxation and Pampering

Do you like your down time while you’re travelling? Are you the kind of person who likes to pamper yourself and relax a little when you’re on holiday? Three cheers to you then, so do we! A holiday in New Zealand is full of so much amazing scenery and activities, from time to time we reckon you need to slow right down, unplug and treat yourself for a few hours. Us Kiwis have always been pretty good at relaxing, and luckily for you New Zealand is dotted with places for relaxation, amazing hot pools, hot springs and day spas. This is YOUR holiday, so you get to do exactly what you want to! 

So with an eye on relaxing tours and taking it easy, here are our favourite spots we love showing friends from overseas when they’re visiting us here in New Zealand. As we’re talking about relaxation, we’re going to look at places you can visit as a couple, by yourself or with friends, but without your kids, so we’ve left out hot pools which may be overrun with the happy sounds of scores of delightful Kiwi kiddies!

Outdoor hot pool in Queenstown - Relaxing Tours NZ

Relaxing for the day in and around Auckland – Hot Springs & Day Spas

Auckland is the city of volcanoes, so it makes sense that there are loads of hot springs within an easy day trip from Auckland, plus of course day spas. Like all good Aucklanders, we love our weekends away and we’ve field tested all the hot pools and springs within a day’s trip from the city. So here are our favourites:

In Auckland, we’re proud of our status as New Zealand’s only truly global city – and of course we couldn’t have that title without plenty of relaxation offerings right in the city. How about unwinding after you day in the ‘City of Sails’ with traditional Japanese hot stone therapy, reflexology or an oil massage, there are numerous spots to choose from.

Our favourite day spa in Auckland is a wee place called Skin Sense over in Devonport, make a day of it by heading over the harbour in the ferry, walk up to North Head or to Cheltenham beach before heading back to the village for a massage. For real indulgence stop in at Devonport chocolates.

Taking it easy in the Bay of Islands – Hot Pools and Springs

When we head up north to the Bay of Islands on tour, we always spend a couple of nights in Paihia to get out on the water and do plenty of walking around the places like Russell and the Waitangi Treaty House, so at the end of the day we reckon you deserve to relax a bit (or a lot). For a lot of people, visiting the Bay of Islands will be pretty early on in your New Zealand trip, so building a little ‘me time’ into your stay is a great way to ease into things and get used to that time difference. Just sitting in the sun, watching the sailboats hopping from bay to bay in this idyllic Kiwi corner of the country is pretty relaxing in itself, but there’s a little more for ‘serious relaxation’ here too, like a Hot Stone or Deep Tissue Masage at La Spa Naturale, an easy walk from the centre of Paihia.

Kiwi Tip for relaxing after a busy day in the Bay of Islands:

If you’re anything like us, there are some days you don’t feel like going anywhere, even for a massage, which is why we love hotels that have a day spa right there on site! In Paihia we always stay at the Copthorne Waitangi, it’s right next to the Treaty House, and you can even get the water taxi drivers to drop you off at their wharf if you ask nicely. But even better, they’ve got the full range of massage and luxury pampering right there at the Day Spa. Perfect!

Relaxing in Rotorua – Hot Springs and Pools

Rotorua’s another spot we love staying for a couple of nights giving us plenty of time to explore and see all the sights. Of course it wouldn’t be Rotorua without jumping in the odd hot spring or two, a lot of the hotels even have their own hot pools right inside, which we love. We’ve been going to Rotorua on holidays since we were kids, and have probably tried every hot pool there at some point over the years. Here are our favourite relaxation spots in Rotorua:

The Polynesian Spa – A whole selection of mineral pools (27 in total), plunge pools, a lakeside pool, private pools plus facials, massage and mud therapy. Open late (till 11pm) and right next to the Museum and Government Gardens.

Wikitoria Maori Healling – Combining natural treatments with ‘manaakitanga’, a Maori concept meaning hospitality, kindness, generousity and support. Just read the online reviews for Wikitoria and you’ll need no convincing. The Romiromi or Mirimiri treatments are her speciality.

Hells Gate – Combines New Zealand’s most active geothermal area with hot pools, spas and massage! Geothermal features include steaming lakes, mud pools, a mud volcano and the largest hot waterfall. Relax in a sulphur spa, a mud bath or a twilight spa even. Treat yourself with a therapeutic massage, foot bath or mud facial, a great place to see the Rotorua’s famous boiling mud and pamper yourself at the same time!

QE Health Spa – You might not otherwise know that this spa exists (if it wasn’t for Trip Advisor!) because it’s inside a local medical centre, but locals have know about it for years and now you can drop in too. Read the reviews and you’ll notice most are by Kiwis, and they all say it’s great, now rated ‘The best Spa & Wellness in Rotorua’.

Kiwi Tip for Hot Springs in Rotorua

Stop by Kuirau Park for a ‘geothermal glimpse’, including a free hot pool you can soak your weary feet in, right in town within walking distance of Ohinemutu village and the Museum.

Massage with lake views at Rotorua - Relaxing Tours of NZ

Relaxing in Napier

Just arriving in Napier will help you unwind, there’s a very relaxed vibe to the whole place. It’s a pretty small city, and we always love staying right down close to the beach on Marine Parade, because everything is within easy walking distance, including the Ocean Spa pools right next to the beach and war memorial, with ‘active’ and ‘passive’ pools for both swimming and chilling.

Our tip – the spa pools right in the corner next to the beach, perfect for watching the sun go down. If you stay at the Te Pania hotel (we always do) you get free entry into the pools, and it’s just over the road, nice!

Chilling out in Wellington, the coolest little capital in the World

As you’re so close to the corridors of power in the nation’s capital (don’t laugh, ‘power’ Kiwi style is not quite at the same level as the big world powers, but someone’s got to be in charge while all the rest of us are at the beach!), you have made the ‘executive decision’ to spend your afternoon relaxing and investing in yourself! Good for you we say, sometimes there’s nothing like an oasis in middle of a city and every no and then the Wellington weather may just you another reason to have an ‘inside day’ when you’re there.

Our favourite day spa in Wellington

Wellington’s a compact city, great for walking around, and with all those stressed out politicians and bureaucrats of course there are some great day spas right in the city, perfect for you to indulge yourself for a few hours in the middle of your trip. Just a short walk or taxi ride from anywhere in the central city there’s East Day Spa just behind the railway station (try the oil massage) and Tory Urban Retreat, in Te Aro, nearer Courtney Place for the Finnish Sauna.

Kiwi Trip for relaxing in Wellington – The capital is not a geothermal area, so we reckon you’ve got to be smart here and make sure you stay somewhere with it’s own pool and spa. One of the many reasons we always stay in the Bolton right downtown, easy for walking everywhere and if we don’t feel like going out anywhere the pool and spa are right there!

Relaxing in Queenstown – Hot Pools and Day Spas

Kiwis know you can visit Queenstown with three generations of your family and you’ll find something everyone will love. So if your travel mates are busy jumping off bridges or screaming their heads off in jetboats (or if you are too but are a bit tuckered out from all that now) then you’re in luck, because being the international resort town that it is, Queenstown has plenty of ‘apres-adventre’ activities too. You’ll feel like you’ve earned your relaxation time here, check out the spots we love showing our friends when we’re visiting Queenstown:

Onsen Hot Pools

These are pretty new, all the locals love them and you will too. In an absolutely stunning spot overlooking the Shotover River, book private pool after a fun day out to make for a perfect day. Just take a look at the view and you won’t need any more convincing. There are hot pools, and there are hot pools with views like these!

Kiwi Tip for Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools – Book for the top of any hour and they’ll come and get you from town for free!

Queenstown’s the ‘adventure capital of the world’ and it makes sense that all these adventurers need to slow down once in a while, so there are at least a dozen day spas in and around town, our favourite and one that’s locally run and easy walking distance from town, Body Sanctum. Another local favourite you’ll love, especially if you’re one half of a couple that loves nothing more than being pampered, and the other half is a golfer, is Millbrook Resort out near Arrowtown. Everyone will be happy, they offer the full range of treatments and wellness packages, plus 18 holes of championship golf all amongst the most idyllic of settings.

Getting out and exploring is what everyone loves doing in Queenstown, you certainly won’t be holed up in your room all day. When you get back after your big day out, this is another place where we like to stay somewhere with hot pools and spa on site – for us it’s the Amaia Luxury Spa in the Scenic Suites.

Private hot pool by candlelight - Relaxing Tours NZ

Rest and Relaxation in Wanaka

Like Queenstown but a bit smaller and more laid back, Wanaka’s a great mountain town with lots to do, amazing scenery, and of course lots of places to relax and pamper yourself. There’s something about Wanaka that just seems to fit a good pampering session, after an afternoon out exploring we love to treat ourselves to an afternoon massage in the Element Day Spa at Edgewater Resort. It’s the best place to stay in town anyway, the only hotel in Wanaka right on the lakefront and such a beautiful setting, so treat yourself with a massage followed by dinner. You don’t need to do anything else in Wanaka, this is enough!

Relaxing in Glacier Country – Franz Josef Thermal Pools

In the middle of the West Coast rainforest, someone had the brilliant idea to put some hot pools in, which we absolutely love. Thanks guys! After a day out exploring the glacier and surrounding World Heritage countryside, there’s no better way to unwind and reflect on a ‘choice’ Kiwi day than a luxurious soak in the rainforest hot pools. For the total rejuvination package, add a relaxation or Deep Tissue massage after your soak in the pools.

Kiwi Trip for Hot Pools Franz Josef – Book a private pool, especially if you’re there in the busy season, there are only 3 pools and they can get crowded if everyone wants to go at the same time. So for something really special, book one of the private pools for an hour and really unwind and relax in your own private rainforest hot pool.

Relaxing in hot pools surrounded by rainforest in Franz Josef - Relaxing Tours of NZ

Christchurch Hot Pools

A lot of people either start or finish their New Zealand tour in Christchurch, we always find ourselves saying goodbye to friends in the Garden City. If you’ve been on the road for a couple of weeks and due to fly home soon, then changing down a gear, sitting back and relaxing for a day will just be the perfect bookend to your New Zealand adventure. What Kiwis love to do to relax when they’re in Christchurch is to head to Hanmer Springs for the day, a great way to see a bit more of the country but build in some relaxation too.

Outdoor hot pools, Hamner Springs - Relaxing Tours of NZ

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