After following a jam-packed itinerary for eight days, I was excited about the prospect of spending a relaxing evening in the hot pools at Tekapo Springs. But before that, I was hoping to try out a few of the adventurous activities on offer, including tubing down the first summer tube track in New Zealand.
I ended up getting to Tekapo Springs slightly later than I’d planned, so I arrived just as the sun was setting. Sad that I’d probably missed the last of the tubing, I asked at reception if there was any chance that the track was still open. They weren’t sure, so they called over Mike, who handles marketing at the newly rebranded hot springs (which were previously known as Alpine Springs). He was very friendly and really interested in all the other things I’d been able to do in the area, so we had a great chat as he walked me around the facilities and over to the tube track.
This track, unlike the winter track where as many as six kids could fly down the hill at once, is designed for one tube. It goes down a pretty decent incline and has a few hairpin turns before you slowly slide to a halt. Because the surface isn’t all that slippery on its own, the tubes have to be painted with a film of lube to get them going…but boy, do they get some pace! After my first run, the guy working the tube ride said it was the fastest the track had been in a long time…so of course that meant we needed to go again, this time as a double (where we each held on to the other’s tube). The added weight gave us so much momentum that I thought we might go flying off the side! It was great fun though.
As I was putting on my helmet prior to the tube ride, Mike came over again and said an appointment had opened up at the day spa, and would I like to have an hour-long massage? The answer was a resounding yes! Since I finished on the tubes just before 6.30, I had time to hop in the pools for a quick soak before my treatment.
The three hot pools at Tekapo Springs are at three slightly different heights, so people in each pool can have unobscured views of Lake Tekapo both during the day and on nights where the full moon lights up the lake. All three are named after large lakes in the region. As you move further away from the lake, the pools get warmer, with the coolest being around 36C and the warmest around 40C. For my short soak, I chose Pukaki, the middle pool.
One thing I noticed about Tekapo Springs was the relatively small number of people there compared to Hanmer Springs. As a whole it was less crowded and quieter in the pools. I much preferred it this way.
When I jumped out of the pool to go to my massage, I also realised how much colder it was in Tekapo than it had been a few hundred kilometers to the northeast in Hanmer. Brrr! It wasn’t quite freezing, but it must have been close as my car was coated in a layer of ice the next morning.
The massage was exactly what I needed after eight days of very exciting, but somewhat tiring, travel. In an hour, Petra (a Slovenian trained as a physiotherapist) got rid of much of the tension in my back, neck, arms, and legs (yes, even my bad knee!) while we chatted about traveling around NZ. Afterwards, I was incredibly relaxed and thought the perfect way to follow it up would be with a nice long soak in the hot pools (something Petra wholeheartedly agreed with).
Even though I also had access to the many other facilities at the hot springs, including the ice rink and the saunas, I chose to spend the last hour before closing time switching between the two of the three hot pools. I wish I’d had more time to explore everything that Tekapo Springs has to offer, but I was perfectly content just lounging and trying to strike that perfect balance between the chill of the autumn air and the heat of the bubbling pools.
I found that Tekapo Springs struck the perfect balance between fun activities and relaxation. I would be perfectly happy spending an entire getaway to Tekapo here, especially in the winter when everything is coated in a fine layer of snow.
Tekapo Springs is located at 6 Lakeside Drive in Tekapo and is open from 10am-9pm daily. The hot pools and Tahr Bar & Cafe are open year round, with the ice skating open from April to September. The summer tubing track is open from October-June and the snow tubing is open in the winter months.
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