A friend of mine took me to Ngawha Hot Springs (pronounced “Nafa”) yesterday. It is a natural hot pool that the Maoris really like and is supposed to be good for skin and soul.
To get there you have to follow State Highway Number 1 (it is THE main highway in New Zealand) up north in direction of Cape Reinga, pass Kawakawa – where they have a cool Hundertwasser toilet right next to the road – and eventually you have to turn left. I think there were enough signs pointing you to Ngawha Springs so you shouldn’t miss it. From Whangarei the drive takes approx. 1.25 hours.
There’s plenty of parking spots by the springs, which are called “Healing Waters” and it’s quite funny because even the mud puddles in the parking are bubbling. The entrance fee to the Springs is $34 for adults, $27 for NZ Gold Card holders and $15 for school children. There are different rates for Mid North and Northland residents – find the full entrance fee list here.
You have the choice to bathe at main public springs or book a private experience. The public springs comprise of 16 geothermal pools and the private springs comprise of eight geothermal pools.
Every pool has a different temperature and the temperatures also vary every day. Usually, there is a sign by the entrance telling you how hot each pool is. Some can be 45 degrees Celcius and hotter so make sure you don’t just jump in (they are also not very deep)!
Be warned – the pools can be really hot in summer! Boz23 on Twitter recommends visiting in the winter months rather.
Once you’ve found the perfect pool for you just sit down on the wooden boards and relax 🙂
I also found this article about Ngawha Springs, which actually dates back to 1937!!!
It was published in the New Zealand Railway Magazine and tells you all about the pools, their healing powers and what significance they have to the Maori.
A few more things to keep in mind when visiting the Ngawa Springs
1. There are no showers and only basic changing facilities.
2. There are no lockers so what you bring inside you have to carry around and watch it! We “lost” a towel which probably someone took by accident.
3. The stinky smell of rotten eggs that comes from all the sulphur can take a while to get used to. Worse is, however, that it stays in your clothes for days and days – probably even forever in your swim suit so don’t wear your favorites!
4. There is no food court so make sure you bring your own stuff, especially drinking water.
5. Don’t wear any jewelry! It will turn black from the sulphur, expecially if it’s silver.
The Ngawha springs recently went through a redevelopment and enhancement including: improved facilities, a flood wall, improved infrastructure (including drainage, the pumping and cleaning systems and parking area), restoration and repair of the pools surrounds (fixing the wobbly rails, dodgy steps and holes in the floors), new shelters and pathways and updated operating system‘s and improved health and safety practices. Read more about the updates and reasons for the price increases here.