One of New Zealand’s most sensual pleasures is lying back in a natural hot pool surrounded by bush and gazing up at the stars. The country lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. Superheated steam escapes as geysers (around Rotorua), boiling mud pools (Rotorua and Taupo) and hot springs – around eighty of them across the northern two-thirds of the North Island and another fifteen along a thin thread down the western side of the Southern Alps.
Over thirty are commercial resorts offering tepid swimming pools, near-scalding baths, mineral mud and hydrothermal pampering. The remainder are natural pools – in the bush, beside a stream or welling up from below a sandy beach – which require a little sleuthing; locals like to keep the best spots to themselves. Check out wnzhotpools.co.nz, and read the notes on amoebic meningitis.