Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa review

There were two things I’d been wanting to do for some time in the small town of Methven, just over an hour from Christchurch in Mid-Canterbury: To visit Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Day Spa which opened in late 2021, and to take a hot air balloon ride over the Canterbury Plains.

Exterior of the Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa. The modern building has been cleverly built so it appears to be rising out of the ground with native plants all over it.

I enjoyed a two hour “Tranquillity Pools” experience at the solar powered Ōpuke Thermal Pools in the foothills of the Southern Alps (Ōpuke means “place of the hill”). These pools are for adults only and are heated to 38.5 degrees Celsius.

The Ōpuke Thermal Pools pictured form the site of the pool. There are black sun umbrellas dotted around providing cover.

Guests are welcome to arrive up to ten minutes before their session time to check-in and you are allocated half an hour to use the facilities to shower and change after your session. “Tranquillity Pools” guests are given a wristband which opens a locker containing a towel and dressing gown which is then put in a basket pool-side before hopping into the pools.

The bathrooms were absolutely gorgeous – I’m sure my admiration for them only slightly heightened in effect by the fact I’d just spent two days at a glamping site where the outdoor shower only seemed to run cold!

Once you’re in the hot pools you can stay in the water and work your way around the different pools, eliminating the need to get in and out of pools and freeze which I’ve experienced at other hot pools in New Zealand. I enjoyed the grotto with star-light style lighting on the ceilings, and appreciated the sun umbrellas dotted around for cover. If you do want to cool off or get your blood pumping, there’s a plunge pool which was heated to 10-14 degrees.

The “Tranquillity Pools” at Ōpuke have a swim up bar allowing you to eat and drink in the pools. A brunch menu (eggs benedict in a hot pool), the pizzas and fries appeared to be the most popular options in our session and seemed to work well in the floating baskets.

Young woman in black togs drinking wine in Tranquillity Pool at Ōpuke Thermal Pools

Those age 18+ can consume up to two alcoholic beverages per two hour session, or four per four hour session. While a four hour session cost less than $20 more than a two hour one ($62 per adult), I’d have struggled to stay in the pools much longer. It’s not a cheap experience but makes a lovely treat.

For families, there are also all-ages “Discovery Pools” at the Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Day Spa which include a star-lit cave, “crazy river” and “leap of faith” plunge pool for kids preferring to jump into the water rather than relax in it. The “Discovery Pools” are slightly cooler and the “Tranquillity Pools” entry price allows you to check these out too. If you’re happy to pay the additional price to experience a private solar tub, these have the warmest temperatures of the pools at Ōpuke and panoramic views of the Southern Alps. The spa treatments on site look equally delightful.

All the pools were spotlessly clean – the pools are emptied every night into insulated holding tanks to preserve the heat of the water so that it’s nice and hot the next day without running power all night. The pools are then cleaned and refilled before the first session of the morning.

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