Secret Spot Hot Tubs is no longer secret.
The new spa complex at Waipa Mountain Bike car park was developed over the last year, mostly behind a fence and that really piqued my curiosity. A spa at the main trailhead always sounded like a very good idea and a few weeks ago, just after they opened, we decided to have a nosy.
We'd been walking the dogs and thought we'd only be able to have a look in at the door. The very welcoming and friendly team ushered us in, dogs and all.
It was like entering the Tardis from Doctor Who - a lot bigger than expected. As we walked through the bar/café/reception entrance the extent of that unfolded.
Outstanding was the first impression and that was only the jaw-dropping landscaping with native planting, boulders and streams interlaced around the cedar hot tubs and with a lush, green lawn down to the banks of the Puarenga stream.
We returned a week later after another walk with a friend from Auckland for a more formal sit down and a beverage – and did I mention dogs are welcome?
Secret Spot isn't only a spa. It's a very pleasant bar and café with one of the best outdoor terraces I've experienced. Anywhere. In the world.
The tubs look inviting in this very tranquil setting or you can soak your feet for free in mini tubs if you buy a drink – they call this a 'shinny dip'.
There's great coffee or teas, a range of snacks and beers and ciders from Good George plus sodas and wines.
And the team mentioned that a pizza oven may be in the works.
All with secure bike storage.
A perfect way to end a ride, walk or run as well as being an innovative, new destination in the Rotorua tourism portfolio.
Secret Spot Hot Tubs is the brain child of brothers and best mates, Keith and Eric Kolver.
They grew up on a farm on the Kaituna river and are life-long adventurers – including white water rafting, kayaking, hunting, biking, exploring the bush and swimming in the lakes.
"We'd always find a hot stream in the bush or on a beach, a secret spot only known to locals, where we could have a drink and a laugh about the day," says Keith. "We were canoeing the Whakatāne river in the Urewera National Park in wild driving rain and gale force winds and dreaming about a place to soak. That's when the idea for Secret Spot started."
The geothermal waters of the Bay of Plenty have soothed and rehabilitated aching bodies since the Arawa arrived around 800AD. Rotorua was the first tourism destination in Aotearoa in the mid-19th century with visitors coming here to experience the natural wonders of our region.
It is one of the key foundations of the Rotorua story alongside mountain biking and adventure sports.
With natural spring water sustainably heated by biofuel, Secret Spot adds their own twist and brings the two closer together in harmony.
There's a $25 local's special till the end of November. See their Facebook page and website for more - secretspot.nz – or, better still, pop your head in the door behind the waterfall and say kia ora.