Over the course of 11 days abroad, I have exerted more physical energy than I have in the last month. Yes, besides being woefully out of shape, exercising outdoors never appealed to my workout routine. However, New Zealand challenged me to push against this mental aversion and to welcome new experiences with determined vigor. I hiked Mt. Eden in Auckland, ventured through an extensive sculpture trail in Warkworth and trekked up and down a steep hill near the Ben Ohau mountain range in the Canterbury Region of South Island. It may have taken several stops and some emergency infusions of Beyoncé to finish each journey, but I made it.
Still, I was eager to experience the country in a less physically demanding way. Hidden among the bungy jumping, “canyoning” and ziplining excursions in adventure-focused Queenstown lies Onsen Hot Pools, a relaxing oasis 10 minutes away from the city’s central hub. Situated on the cliff side of a mountain in Arthur's Point, my eyes beheld unobstructed views of Shotover River canyon from the toasty drum of pure, gently bubbling water. What could possibly make this hour of splendor better? I’m a simple girl with an easy checklist: Hollywood-esque spa treatment and decor (check), familiar southern hospitality (check) and uninterrupted privacy (check).
For the experienced relaxers, splurge like I did on the Tandeki (Japanese for indulgence) package, which included not only towels and an aromatherapy burner, but a complimentary glass of bubbly, wine, or beer and your choice of a tasty snack. I paired champagne with the most delicious white chocolate raspberry ice cream I’ve ever had.
The customer service was perhaps the biggest sell of Onsen; each of the employees smiled warmly and seemed genuinely appreciative that I was there. Except for a soft knock at the 50-minute mark, the staff allowed customers to enjoy their downtime away from the full-paced adventure capital of the world.
For those who think New Zealand is all about thrill-seeking adventure, I offer Onsen Hot Pools as a friendly rebuttal. You can explore the curvaceous city without breaking (too much of) a sweat.