Being in the hot spring area of New Zealand there were plenty of options to spend money and lie in the hot springs, or go to a spa (where you could do more than lie in the water), or even some that were ‘public/private’ where you could pay to enjoy the public part and then pay more for a private area… Or you could use Google and find the ‘free hot springs’ in and around Rotorua which is what we did.
Claire, Genevieve and I spent the afternoon at the Kerosene Creek hot springs – clearly a stop on the backpackers agenda as there were quite a few there when we arrived and when we left – several enjoying a meal in the parking lot after spending time in the hot springs.
To get to the creek and pools you travel down an old gravel road for about 2km and come to a spot where there are several cars parked. Take your valuables with you and head down to the creek. The 200m down the path (easily found) takes you to the creek – remember the creek is hottest at the source and so you are at the hottest point when you get to the creek. You then head downstream where you will find the first (smallest) of two small waterfalls, several pools made from stones by visitors and then at the second waterfall there is a much larger pool and an area to layout towels and spend time in and out of the water.
Given these are naturally occurring hot springs you also get the obligatory smell of rotten eggs from the water. We all agreed that in this case the smell was minimal and well worth it for the experience. We spent about 90 minutes there, however you could easily spend longer if you pack a picnic and a book with you as the setting was beautiful. We were there mid-afternoon on a Thursday and there were maybe 30 people that we counted during our time at the creek. If you find yourself in the area – well worth the visit!