Husband was away, so the kids and I decided to play during a recent long weekend, when I took them to Waiwera Infinity Thermal Spa Resort.
Kind of like a Wet and Wild, the difference is that the water is thermally heated, with several natural mineral hot pools, of varying temperatures and depths, to relax in.
There are also loads of water slides for the kids (and the young at heart).
One of the most popular spots was the movie pool – where movies are screened twice-daily, and video clips run in-between.
What I love about Waiwera – and I have to say most attractions in New Zealand are the same – is that not only is it family friendly, but visitors are allowed to bring in their own food and drink.
I’ve had it with stingy Australia tourism operators, who not only have the audacity to charge inflated entry fees, but then force punters to pay more inflated prices for mostly unhealthy and cardboard-tasting food and drink.
In New Zealand, zoos, museums, rollerskating centres, indoor climbing venues and more, are all relaxed about allowing visitors to bring picnics and snacks. Places like MOTAT, Waiwera, and the Auckland Zoo, provide glorious grounds for picnicking, with loads of shady trees, gazebos, and picnic tables. At one rollerskating centre, people even had pizza delivered!
I was out of bread (Mother FAIL), so didn’t pack a proper picnic, but we did take a cooler with cold drinks, snacks, and fruit to save money.
At lunch time, we shared a delicious seafood basket. (C. of course, needed more and had a hot dog on a stick as well).
The biggest surprise? The café made a really lovely coffee. And there were healthy options, like salad panini and pasta dishes as well.
It goes without saying that the kids had an awesome day. And I enjoyed it as well, especially when they graciously granted me time to soak in the Sapphire Pool. Heated to 40 degrees, I stationed myself where the aptly-named Lava Pool (48 degrees) waters ran into the pool – mmm, deliciously hot. It was like honey for my poor, arthritic bones.
Best of all, because the waters are natural and full of life-giving minerals, eczema-prone Mr 8 could enjoy to his heart’s content. The day at the resort actually improved his eczema rather than inflaming it, like normal pools do.
So a bit more about Waiwera:
- It’s New Zealand’s most popular thermal resort and was the Southern Hemisphere’s first spa
- There are 22 pools to choose from, and 8 slides
- There is a day spa there as well, which I didn’t get to enjoy because I had kids to wrangle. Maybe another time?
- The healing waters have been famous since the 1840s, when people came from far and away to take the waters
- Waiwera’s natural mineral water was originally called Te Rata. Translated from Maori, this means ‘The Doctor”. It is sourced from a geothermal aquifer located 1500 metres below the resort, meaning every pool is 100% naturally hot!
- Independent carbon dating by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences estimates Waiwera water to be between 10,000 and 15,600 years old, making it the oldest water in the world
- Waiwera Artesian Water is still bottled at the source over 140 years later! And I can vouch that it’s delicious.
- It's affordable. NZ$60 for a family pass (two adults and two kids, with a current special allowing another two kids as well). Given the resort is open from 9 am-9pm each day - and you can get pass-outs - that's incredible!
A couple of thermal slides
Missy in the sapphire pool (lava pool in the background)
C's favourite slide, the Squeeze. He even convinced his sister to try it!
Delicious, health-giving water
Lunch time. Okay, it's not healthy, but look at how skinny he is! Wish I had his metabolism.
Miss 6 on one of the slides
She started on this one before working up the courage to become more adventurous
The movie pool. Kids are in there somewhere ...
Oh look, I found one!