My holiday in Queenstown, New Zealand started with a burst of high energy.
Three days of intense skiing at Coronet Peak has provided me with multiple adrenalin rushes and a generous dose of the exhilaration I had been craving.
But it’s also left me feeling exhausted, with a few unusual aches. Some serious recuperation is in order!
So I’m pleased to be heading for the Onsen Hot Pools. Will this renowned venue live up to its hype? Gathering in a deep breath of crisp mountain air, I proceed along a zig-zag walk up, snowflake-covered steps and cross the threshold.
Inside, I’m greeted by a smiling receptionist wearing a headset and mic rig more suited to a movie set or an air traffic control tower than a boutique day spa.
After exchanging pleasantries, Simone asks, “What drinks and snacks would you like? Chips, chocolate, tea, cider”? I contemplate requesting all of them, before confining my order to chips and cider. What discipline! Such impressive self-control!
I am ushered downstairs through an alleyway and voila! Into a hot pool room that’s nothing short of magical. The incredible panoramic view renders me speechless. Stretched out before me lies the mystical, enchanting Shotover River, looking as though it’s straight out of a Peter Jackson fantasy film.
Plumes of steam waft up from a cedar hot tub filled with swirling pristine mountain water heated to a temperature of precisely 38.3 degrees.
To maintain their high standards and ensure cleanliness and purity in their eco-friendly environment, Onsen exposes the water in the pool to high intensity ultraviolet rays. Good for me and fellow germaphobes to know.
Simone tells me, “You have 60 minutes in here. I’ll give you notice ten minutes before you have to get out.”
Poor me… just when I had begun to hatch my scheme to take up permanent residence in the hot pool room, my plan is smashed by what feels like a slightly strict rule.
But then I remember this is one of the most acclaimed tourist destinations in Queenstown, so sharing in my discovery seems reasonable enough.
I slowly lower myself into my hot pool. Ahhhhhhh, it’s soooo good. Almost immediately it seems as if all the stresses and strains of the last few years have just melted away into nothingness.
I pause a moment to take in my surroundings and notice my hosts have even thought to put in a retractable roof so clientele can enjoy the magnificent views no matter what the weather. I take bite a salty potato chip, sip my cool, crisp bubble cider and close my eyes.
In my blissed-out state, my mind takes a cue from my body and starts to float, letting my imagination take me to all sorts of places. I’m remembering that during my time on Coronet Peak some locals informed me that many a wild party has gone down in these private spa rooms.
Supposedly, absolutely anything goes – but, these being private rooms, the walls don’t talk and secrets stay safely kept.
It’s so peaceful here, and I’m suddenly struck with the realization of how very healing total quiet can feel. Just a little while ago I was an earthly being and now I find myself in a corner of Heaven.
You know, part of my reason for coming here was to indulge in some much needed solo “me time”, but the totally romantic aspects of this place have me wishing I was here with my other half. Small wonder people get engaged or spend their honeymoons here.
Suddenly, a ringing sound jolts me from my reverie. It’s my 50-minute warning and it’s time to get out. There are alarm bells in Heaven, too.
I change into a comfy white robe and slippers and head up to a different room for a Swedish deep tissue msssage. Once again, I’m transported into an altered state of deep, deep relaxation. Oh, no – time’s up yet again!
That hour of massage felt like it went by in 15 minutes! Please, this can’t be the end! But it is.
After getting dressed, I head back up to the foyer where I’m consoled by a delicious slice of passionfruit cheesecake and a sparkly cherry drink.
As I settle into my chair I realize I’m at one with my environment; whole, at peace and utterly chillaxed, feeling like I want to laze around this joint all day long. Perhaps I will?
Onsen Hot Pools opened in 2007 and is proudly New Zealand owned and operated, offering a unique Kiwi twist on a traditional Japanese spa experience. This is a tightly run operation that exists for the
express purpose of unwinding you.
Indulging in Onsen Hot Pools is a must-do activity for anyone visiting New Zealand’s South Island.
It is truly a healing, recharging, rejuvenating adventure serving as yet another extraordinary reminder as to why Queenstown never ceases to amaze!
More information about Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown, at www.onsen.co.nz