Rotorua's hot springs are famous around the world but there are a few spots not so well known. Hot 'n' Cold is one of these. The name refers to a place near Waiotapu where a hot thermal stream and a cold freshwater stream meet. The result? A perfect blend of heat to suit anyone wanting a dip.
Set in the brush within a few meters of the road, small man-made dams have created shallow pools where you can kick back and relax - FOR FREE.
The muted sounds of voices (if others are present), the breeze in nearby trees, bird calls, cicadas and the odd car or bus going past are about all the sounds you will hear.
Any worries? Ahh now, that's the whole point of soaking in thermal waters. Your worries just melt away.
The people? It can be like a meeting of the league of nations - not the kind that's resolving conflict either. The last time I was out there, we met people from the UK, Germany, Australia and Denmark. And some locals. Can't leave them out. It's fun to chat with the visitors and locals alike.
And how is it that visitors hear about this place when many locals are unaware of its existence? Weird isn't it?
Suitable for any age. In addition to yourself, just make sure any children with you don't go putting their heads under the water. I wrote about the danger of Amoebic Meningitis on the Kerosene Creek page. You can also download a Health Education pamphlet if you wish to learn more.
Not really suitable for the physically disabled. Stairs have to be navigated and then there can be a bigger step into the water where you have to clamber over submerged rocks. The ability to move reasonably fastish if a jet of extra hot water heads your way would be helpful too.
The stream bed is uneven in places with sudden drops (thigh height) sometimes. It's bad enough for able-bodied people.
Personally, I prefer Hot 'n' Cold over Kerosene Creek. When Kerosene Creek is hot, it's way hot. Too hot for many people actually. Just ask my brother and niece. I was wondering if the temperature has something to do with how much rain we have or don't have.
With Hot 'n' Cold you get the option of moving to cooler parts so it should suit everyone.
I've read a few complaints about the pools. It's too gritty and dirty. It stinks. My polite reply to that? It's a non-commercial setting so that means au naturel and not stripped, filtered and sanitised to death. Besides, it's volcanic so of course everything stinks of sulphur. Embrace it. :)
Oh yes, expect to exit the water with grit in your swimwear too - if you're wearing any. Some swim nude, most don't. Your preference.
With that said, there are some legitimate complaints. You may find rubbish and broken bottles left on the banks and in the water. I guess some people have a big empty space inside their heads instead of brains.
Totally off topic but it also astounds me how people dump trailer sized loads of rubbish at various (isolated) rest stops which is a similar scenario. And it would have taken quite a drive to get to the spots. Not good, for any of us.
31km (24mins) from Rotorua's i-Site Visitor Info Center - head south on Fenton St past Te Puia (about 2km). The road changes to become SH5. Most of the mileage is taken up on this.
The streams are located on a loop road - Waiotapu Loop Rd. The first turnoff onto the loop is opposite the Waiotapu Tavern. You want the secondary turnoff a few hundred metres, maybe a km or so past the tavern.
Turn left onto it and continue until you come to a bridge (100 or so meters). Park up anywhere on the side of the road.
The streams are either side of the Waiotapu Bridge with the hot stream closest to Rotorua. (Bonus: As the swimming is so close to the road and the parked up vehicles, there isn't much opportunity for car thieves.)
If you want privacy (no toilets or changing rooms), find the biggest bush to
get changed behind before making your way into one of the pools for your
genuine, real deal, NZ thermal swim. Same for when you get out. How fun is that?
When you're finished and ready to leave, you can carry on around the loop. It will take you past Waiotapu, then you will come to another small loop road on the right with a sign saying Mud Pools. Veer off there if you want to take a look. They are free to view and there's lots of mud plopping. Carry on around that loop back onto the Waiotapu Loop, turn right and drive until you get back to SH5 where you should be looking at the Waiotapu Tavern again.
To the left of the tavern is a Gull petrol station and the Benny Bee country store. They sell coffee and hot food in the way of pies, toasted sandwiches, etc.
Check out the excellent range of local honey products too. Cheaper than the supermarkets. You'll see outside two large tanks, one filled with Manuka Honey and the other with Clover Blend Honey.
From there return north to Rotorua.