Day 89: Waiwera Thermal Resort

It’s been several weeks since we visited a hot pool and that’s several weeks too long so we decided to try Waiwera Thermal Resort yesterday, just 30 minutes North of Auckland. There aren’t many options in the Auckland area and I had hoped to find a new spot to soothe the stress away.

A little Googling and we found that they are open until 9 pm and have several hot pools all with natural geothermal water, a lazy river, a slide, a day spa, a café and even a movie pool where you can soak in the heated water and watch movies. It was a bit expensive at almost $30 per person but it sounded just the thing. I was really looking forward to setting up an inner tube and floating down the lazy river and the pictures looked like fun.

Before heading out though we stopped for lunch and did a little more Googling while we ate and then the doubts started to set in. The reviews weren’t great – many people complained that the resort was old, tired, and dirty. There were a few good reviews though and we had already set our minds to it so off we went to take our chances. We’re used to NZ hot pools of all shapes and sizes and figured we’d be fine.

The drive was easy and finding the resort no problem at all. We arrived around 4 and found that if you enter after 5 pm then it is half price! Sadly, we found that most of the reviews were accurate – I wouldn’t say that it was horrible or dirty so much as tired and unloved. The bathrooms, locker area, pools, etc. were clean and the pools were pleasant to soak in but there were some pretty significant areas that could be improved:

  • The lazy river (the main reason we went there instead of elsewhere) was sad. The water was lukewarm, there was very little current so you wound up paddling yourself to get around, and the water was only a couple of feet deep with a rough cement floor so it wasn’t possible to hang on to your tube while you swam.
  • The pools were all concrete but the paint had worn away so the sides and bottoms were rough and prickly. A few coats of paint would have fixed it.
  • There was nobody on the slides – we opted not to try them as they just didn’t look interesting. They may have been fun but there were lots of kids there and almost nobody on the slides so I doubt it.
  • The movie pool looked great for the kids. But it is very family friendly so the movies are all rated G and really geared for the young ones.
  • There weren’t really any jets or fountains in the pools like there are in some of the hot pool places like Hanmer Springs in the South Island.

The water was nice though and there are inside pools, outside pools, and pools of varying temperatures. The lockers are easy to use and the changing room and showers are fine. The movie pool was probably great for kids and it was nice to move from colder pools to warmer ones and back again. But overall we thought it was way overpriced for what you got and decided to check out the other options next time.

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