I first heard about the Onsen Hot Pools from a bridal client of mine who was from New Zealand. As we were discussing my upcoming trip at that time, she started raving about the Onsen Hot Pools and insisted i HAD TO check it out. She even called over her dad to confirm the name of the place. Well, it’s name is straight up – Onsen Hot Pools.
I left the booking of our pool session right to the very last minute, on the morning that I wanted to go to the pool, I made a booking via our hostel’s reception. It’s easy in Queenstown, most hotels, motels or even hostels will help you make bookings where you pay once you book it. We managed to get a slot in the late afternoon, just before the popular sunset slot (although there was not much of a sunset on that cloudy autumn day).
A free bus service picks guests up from the Shotover Junction in the town centre, with the driver, a chatty, flirty young chap from UK making the other ladies in the bus roar with laughter. The bus takes only 10 to 15 minutes to get to the pools, and there’s a great view of the mountains from the top where the carpark lot is.
From the carpark lot, you need to walk down a flight of steps to get to the pools. It’s ok for most people, and they have ramps incase you can’t take the steps. But there are no lifts, so if you have any issues with walking, you may want to reconsider as the climb back up can be a little tiring.
A nice outdoor deck right outside the spa, a little cold then to be sitting outside, but it’s great place for you to unwind before and after your treatment.
Treatment prices do not include drinks (except cold water) unless you purchase a package, but you can order your favourite drinks off the menu once you get there. They had a good selection of loose leaf Dilmah teas (served in a tea press and nice cups!), bottled juices and sodas.
So this is where it gets interesting. The water, a mix of mountain spring water, lake and rain water, is treated with Ozone (O3), which cleanses it of the bacteria and then gets released as Oxygen (O2). I err.. tasted some of the water, No I Did Not Drink It, and it tasted.. clean. There was no taste of chlorine or salt.
With a press of a button, the roof opens up so you get the crisp mountain air, and a clear view of the Shotover river below. We were lucky that the Shotover Jet had stopped running by that time of the day, I hear that during the earlier part of the day you can hear the noisy jet when it goes past.
The other buttons turn on the bubbles, like a jacuzzi, and also dispense cold water from above (great to hit your spa partner with when he’s not looking!), and dim or brighten the lights.
I tried drenching myself with cold water in the attached shower, and then returning to the hot tub, which felt pretty darn good!
You know when your hour is almost up when they start knocking at the doors, and then exactly on the hour, a crazy buzzer goes off to shoo you out of the room. If you don’t have the luxury of time to shower next to your tub, there are adjacent showers and changing rooms. One hour for us was good but just as we were getting comfy and relaxed, it was time to go. Perhaps a 90 minute booking would be much better for a less rushed spa session.
Location: Away from the town which is good for the quietness and scenery. It’s only a 10 minute drive away or you can opt for their free transport service from town
Staff: Chop-chop service because they have such quick turn-around times, they can’t allow the guests to dilly dally in the rooms. You’ll be chased out if you’re taking too long to get dressed.
Cleanliness: Very very clean. The showers within the room was clean, the floors were dry when we got in, and the shared dressing room was impeccable as well.
The tub (to me) was clean, but there is some white fluff sticking to the walls of the tub. I was told that tourists from China bring their towels into the tub which causes the lint to float off and stick to the walls (WHUT? Yes.)
Price: As compared to the other activities in Queenstown, the price range of this one is quite reasonable. Some people may baulk at paying $40+ to soak in a tub for an hour, but it was well worth it. Don’t forget they have a whole team who’s making your experience comfortable, smooth and clean. We do wish they’ll include towel use in the price though (you need to pay $3 for towel hire)
Price chart (from Onsen Hot Pools website)
|Bathers||First Hour||Each Additional 30 Mins.|
|2 Adults||$40 ea.||$16 ea.|
|3 Adults||$35 ea.||$14 ea.|
|4 Adults||$32 ea.||$13 ea.|
|Children*||$10 ea.||$4 ea.|
All prices listed are in New Zealand Dollars.
Onsen Hot Pools
11am – 10pm Daily
160 Arthurs Point Road,
Arthurs Point, Queenstown