Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools + Others We've Known and Loved

Does anything feel better than submerging your body in hot water? Muscle and tendon relax, unchallenged by gravity, free to float or stretch. The mind clears.

Today dawned cool and rainy, perfect for testing a range of thermal pools whose waters run from about 95F to 104F. To me (and, happily, Art too), there's nothing more restorative than slipping into steamy water.

We walked from our campground to the Spa at Hanmer Springs, changed and stowed our gear, and dropped right into one of the hexagonal pools.

The geothermal water is drawn directly from a bore adjacent to the pools.

People have been coming here for 125 years. "A sanitorium was opened in 1897 to accommodate visitors of fragile health who were taking the waters."

High on our list were three sulfur pools containing unfiltered thermal water. At about 104F, they had a soft, silky feel and a not overwhelming sulfuric smell. 104F bodes a short-term soak for me, but we did get into a good conversation with a man who had visited Chicago and taken Amtrak to San Francisco, picking up his wife in Denver along the way. He closed his story by saying "I love American trains!"

There were also AquaTherpay pools with water spouts and waterfalls to pound away any remaining tension.

The tearoom here was originally built in 1904 by the NZ government, along with two others in Rotorua and Te Aroha. In those days, the government encouraged thermal bathing in the mineral-rich waters. This is the only one still used as a cafe, after a major fluffing in 2015. (Note post-soak flat white.)

Perfectly relaxed and prune-y, I started to ponder some of the other hot soaks we've luxuriated in. Please don't ask me to choose a favorite...

La Gruta, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Traveling in Mexico with Carolina, who's lived there for 20+ years, is an immense pleasure. On this 2008 trip, she took Brooke, Phyllis, and me for some fantastic soaking in a paradise setting just outside San Miguel.

La Gruta has more interesting soaking places than my feeble 2008 digital camera could record.  If I recall, Phyllis healed some body part under a magic waterfall. Also, check out this photo from TripAdvisor. We relished our time here.

Desert Hot Springs, California
Here's a blog post from 2012 in which we take to the waters at a stunning campsite in Desert Hot Springs.

The three spring-fed pools, starting at about 105 degrees and dropping a degree or two down the line, are drained and cleaned each night, refilled with the natural spring water that bubbles up in this starkly dry desert oasis.  Being indoors was the only downside to this soak.

Bonneville Campground on the Upper South Fork Peyette River, Idaho
You meet the nicest people on the road, and we certainly did in 2010 when we took the camper west. Some friendly folks at a gas station recommended this campground, specifically mentioning its hot springs. We're in.

It would have been enough to pull into a pine-scented dream location with our pick of any spot, most perched above the roaring Peyette River. 

At sunset we walked to the hot springs. The first pool Art tested actually burned his foot.

After trying several regions we found our perfect temperatures, and I discovered I could move up and down in the stream to hotter or cooler waters.

This was a most memorable soak--outdoors, mountains and pines towering--and a prelude to our favorite Idaho stop: in Boise to see Camille.

Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, NZ
Situated among native NZ flora and rocks, this spa is exquisitely sited. Thanks to Dena at Jetset AMEX Travel for arranging our visit here (and many other places) in 2015.
We soaked here when our family came to join us in NZ. More on our day in Rotorua at this link, including one of my all-time favorite events: Carly and Austi running out of oxygen in the mana balls...in the name of fun.

Holly, Rich, Lisa, Chris

There's Brooke again, in the mineral-rich Rotorua pool. Our Pisces niece loves a thermal pool as much as her Pisces auntie...

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