The South Island of New Zealand is truly a land of enchanting fire and ice. Already known for the snowcapped Southern Alps and glaciers which lap their down the mountains, it’s also an island of geothermal undercurrents which bubble up in steaming hot springs.
In the township of Franz Josef—located five hours from Queenstown on the wet, wild West Coast—the hot springs are actually a little bit different than those which are found elsewhere on the island. Unlike spring water which is heated by the Earth and emerges from a natural vent, the hot pools in Franz Josef instead use water which is sourced from the nearby glacier. This pure, fresh, frigid water is then artificially heated to approximately 100° and routed into six different pools. Combined with its setting in the middle of the rainforest, this is a serene escape from the adrenaline-fueled tourism which is so prevalent in the west coast hamlet.
Sit back and relax in the steaming pools after a morning of trekking on the glacier, and feel the warmth return to limbs which have spent hours scrambling across ice. Share the pools with other travelers beneath a canopy of 100 ft. tall trees, or splurge and reserve your own private pool where you can commune with the sounds of the forest.
The Franz Josef hot pools are only open in the afternoon, although on a misty evening when the clouds roll in off the ocean this is the perfect place to escape the coastal chill.