Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools & baths in hot water creeks

If you are anything like me you’d be sold as soon as you heard the words “hidden hot springs on the lake front accessible only by boat or float plane” but oh my, there is even more to entice you to the Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools in Manupirua Bay.

I went away for a weekend in Rotorua with my eldest daughter (who’s 15) and her two besties and their Mums.  We spent the first two days zip lining through the canopies, walking 20 meters up on Redwoods, playing mini golf with bunnies and luging so a good soak was exactly what we all needed.

First used commercially over 100 years ago, the Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools consist of 8 hot pools all of varying temperatures.  You can only get there by boat or by float plane – so we travelled with Rotoiti Water Shuttles who were incredible!  

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua

I kind of think of it like a champagne fountain where you stack up all the glasses and pour from the top with the water spilling out over each one, getting a bit cooler as it goes down.

There’s also a pretty impressive bit of Kiwi ingenuity that goes in to these as well.  Our skipper Matt explained it a little like margarine tubs with each ones having different size holes to let in different amounts of hot water.  Invariably I’ve over simplified the whole thing (and potentially got it all wrong) but it gave me great joy to be sitting in a champagne fountain with margarine tubs controlling the whole thing.

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua

And whilst we are on Kiwi ingenuity it would be remiss of me to not share my absolute favourite thing of all.  A bath tub, right in the middle of a hot water stream.  Which was right in the middle of, well absolutely no where.  It was a deserted little bay – a spring bubbling out of it with water “hot enough to cook a trout in about 30 seconds” and a stream running into the geothermal wetland.

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua bath in a hot water creek

The whole trout story gave the kids pause of where to step but not me – I was off to adventure.  Ankles swishing through the warm water, toes sinking into the sand, birds singing and the voices from the 9 people on the boat fading away.

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua bath in a hot water creek

This part of the adventure is only available if you book the 3 hour cruise so it goes without saying – book the 3 hour cruise!!

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua

The 3 hour cruise will get you… 

  • a bit of a cruise on Lake Rotoiti in a super comfy boat with loads of room to lounge about
  • some great chat with Matt about the lake, trout and hot water
  • a stop at the hot water creek (with bath)
  • And an hour and a half at Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools where you can go swimming in the lake, soaking in the pools, eat ice cream, have a cold beer or go for a walk up to the look out

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua bath in a hot water creek

So now we’ve got the initial crush well and truly established, let me see if I can get you to fall in love with the Lake Rotoiti Hot Pools the way I did (if you are not already away booking which if you are – here’s the link).

I’m not going to try and butcher the Māori mythology that accompanies the pools, nor tell you about the drowned valleys and volcanic depression that joined to form Lake Rotoiti some 8,500 years ago.  But if you are in to history or geology you will adore it for those stories alone.

For me however the most magical thing was the sense of being pulled back in time to something so much simpler and pure.   

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua

There were only four other boats there when we pulled up on a sunny early Autumn day.  There were kids swimming out to the pontoon despite it being April (Lake Rotoiti is quite warm thanks to the geothermal activity underfoot) and families bbq’ing next to the pools.  

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua

We hopped from pool to pool (the sulphur presumably doing all the amazing things that sulphur does) while we thought about nothing more than if we should jump in the crystal clear lake yet, get an ice cream or climb up to the lookout.

A word while we are here on the look out.  I, rather typically, only pulled out the words I quite liked from the sign (not the first time!) at the bottom which happened to be “leisurely pace”.  This is not words I’d use to describe the 100 odd steep stairs up.  

I also managed to overlook the words “uneven, steep terrain” and “suitable footwear required” which did come back to haunt me as I landed flat on my bum on the way back down.  

Was it worth it for the view – oh absolutely!  Did we drag the kids up there?  Not a chance!

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua

We were so blissfully relaxed after the end of the 3 hours that it did spell the end of our adventuring in Rotorua so I’d recommend you book it in on your last day to truly get the most out of it.  

And don’t hold off on booking in Winter or a rainy day either – our Skipper Matt tells us it’s amazing with the steam coming off the lake on a cold day.  

I have a feeling it won’t be too long before I’m wandering through hot water creeks and watching the lake from my champagne fountain, margarine tub hot pools again.

Rotoiti Hot Pools Rotorua

This was a planned adventure, but a lot of the time we just like to leave it all up to chance and get lost!  If you are looking to leave it all up to chance and explore in a different way we recommend checking out our range of Getting Lost Games. They’re all made in New Zealand by me (Cat) and my husband James and they can be played anywhere in the world.