Written by Scarlett Murray,
24th August 2023

Whether you want to take a dip in the most picture-perfect blue waters or feel the embrace of a hot spring, New Zealand has incredible waters for you to explore. Discover five of the most exceptional.   

1. Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, Marlborough

Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve

Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve.

If you are seeking a bit of Middle earth magic, head to the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve. You’ll find a rock pool and waterfall nestled in the forests. It was a filming location for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. As well as a dip, you can enjoy a guided kayak tour of the area’s waterfalls, streams, and the filming location. Additionally, you can hike through the enchanting forests and meet the large native pigeon, the kereru. If you want to truly get to know the area, you can spend the night at the Pelorus Scenic Reserve Campground.

2. Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

Hot Water beach

Hot Water Beach.

Sometimes, the best baths come with a little work. In your home, that might be through sourcing a scented candle or popping a “do not disturb” sign on the door, in Hot Water Beach, that comes with bringing a spade or shovel. Two hours either side of low tide, you can dig the sand away to expose warm water underneath. Dig around yourself to fashion your own warm bath. The water can be quite hot, so be careful, especially if you’re bringing children. But it is certainly a unique experience.

3. Cleopatra’s Pools, Abel Tasman National Park

Cleopatras Pools

Cleopatras Pools.

Nestled in a native forest canopy, Cleopatras pools are fitting of a queen – though a queen who can stand chilly waters. The pools are especially impressive because they are home to a naturally formed water slide, a moss-lined chute will make you glide into the water happen smoothly. If you’d rather observe than embrace the chill yourself, there are plenty of rocks encircling the pools to have a picnic on.

4. Blue Pools, Makarora River

 Blue Pools

Blue Pools!

With a name like Blue Pools, you may be expecting these waters to be a certain colour and they do not disappoint. These breathtaking waters are a crystal-clear blue colour and are surrounded by gorgeous fauna and flora. If you want to see them at their most vibrant shade of blue, go at midday. These waters are glacial fed though, so expect a bite of cold. It’s best to go in summer and get moving, fast. In addition, you can view the waters from a bridge above. You are going to want to snap many pictures of the Blue Pools.

5. Kerosene Creek, Rotura

Kerosene creek

Kerosene Creek.

If bracing cold waters don’t appeal, Kerosene Creek will…and you don’t even have to dig for the warm water. Here, hot water from a natural spring underneath the earth bubbles up into the cool waters of the creek, creating the perfect temperature. Not too hot, not too cold. As well as the waterfalls, rocks have naturally sectioned off parts of the water, so you can enjoy a feeling of privacy.

Swimming safely

One of the most exhilarating aspects of finding a creek nestled in the forests is the privacy that it offers. But the major downside of this also means that the rivers and lakes are not patrolled, which in turn, means that drownings and accidents are more common than any other water environment. To ensure that you enjoy swimming in New Zealand, one of the best resources to turn to is Water Safety New Zealand. They are on a mission to reduce the number of drownings through knowledge and awareness of the water. They provide reports on the number of drownings, tips for swimming safely with children, managing beaches, boats and more. Read up on their tips for safe river swimming here.

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