Sometimes a bit of pampering is just what you need to make it through the cooler months, writes Alexia Santamaria.
As the temperatures drop, those of us who are more Fiji than fjord and more sunseeker than snow bunny will be looking for ways to warm our bodies. What better way to do this than with activities that incorporate warmness and wellness. Here are some to consider, depending on where you're travelling - or where you call home. From hot yoga, to hot stone massages, to hot pools to saunas, there are plenty of fun ways to warm up this winter.
The Loft, with its branches in Whangārei and Kamo, is the perfect place for raising your body temperature. Heated or warm yoga classes, infrared sauna - at their Kamo location only - or hot stone massages (where hot stones are placed on the body, along with your choice of Swedish or therapeutic massage) A bit of work, a bit of reward, everyone's a winner.
An hour from central Auckland is Castaways Resort with its dreamy views of Karioitahi beach. Their Bersantai Day Spa is perfect for ultimate warm wellness, especially if you have a hot stone massage with their smooth heated basalt stones as your treatment. You can also relax in one of the outdoor Balinese Stone Baths with ocean views and sea air to add extra therapeutic value. Coconut milk will leave your skin soft and happy and essential oils will have your mind relaxed as well as your body. There are various packages combining eating and treatments, treatments and other treatments or treatments and bath relaxation. You really can't go wrong.
The Lost Spring is a long-time favourite in Whitianga and especially great if you're a gang of friends or family looking to warm up together. These geothermal mineral pools are surrounded by lush native bush and there is also a day spa on-site for extra pampering action. The pool combo is especially popular with groups as it includes a platter and a cocktail poolside (or in the restaurant if you prefer) and 90 minutes to soak in the pools - which range from 32C to 41C.
The Waitomo Day Spa is an unexpected oasis located in the headquarters of Waitomo Adventures (better known for their amazing caving thrills). For the ultimate warming wellness experience, indulge in their Float and Massage package, where you'll drift into the deepest state of relaxation possible in a luxury float tank - and follow it up with a 30- or 60-minute massage in a heated room. That warm glow will last for hours after you leave the building.
It would be impossible to do a round-up of warming activities in New Zealand without mentioning our internationally renowned geothermal capital, Rotorua. There are a million ways to warm up in this town, like walking round geothermal areas that give off steam or even just soaking in the pool in your accommodation (many have their own). A crowd favourite will always be the Polynesian Spa, right at the lake's edge. Go at night for a private spa or soak in one of the five larger communal pools (don't miss the geothermally heated recliners by the side) Pop in during the daytime or early evening if you want to include a massage in a heated room too - they have some interesting options such as mud and mānuka honey massages.
Wairakei Terraces have a long history of wellness through warmth. The waters and clays of Wairakei were highly valued by Māori for their healing powers and therapeutic benefits - and later, visitors used to come by train, horse or even stagecoach to "take in the waters". The pools are still rich in those minerals and you can definitely still reap the benefits in a more modern context. Relax in any one of the different temperature pools in the magical location below the Wairakei silica terraces and waterfall. And it really would be rude not to finish your experience off with a hot stone, regular or reflexology massage to warm those muscles on the inside before you float off on a cloud of bliss.
Saunas are one of the best ways to warm up - and a great place to escape that Wellington cold is Tory Urban Retreat. It's a day spa and wellness centre offering a traditional Finnish sauna alongside a range of wellness therapies. Book a private sauna if you need some me-time, or head in on the men's, women's or mixed-gender days to enjoy the benefits of steam with others. Flotation pods and hot stone massages are available too - you may never want to leave.
The recently opened Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa in Methven are the talk of the south with their glorious views across the foothills of the Southern Alps. The solar-powered Tranquillity Pools sit around 38.5C and they have a great swim-up bar, which is proving very popular. The solar tubs (up to 41C and controlled by you) are ideal if you're looking for a little more privacy and the Discovery Pools are perfect if you're keen to unleash your inner child. The water is sourced from nearby mountains and they have a steam room and dry flotation experience in their spa as well as a range of warming massages.
A truly unique way to warm your body, as well as your soul, is the Tekapo Star Gazing experience at Tekapo Springs. It's the only guided hot pool and star-gazing experience in New Zealand and combines the breathtaking Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve with a wonderful bone-warming soak. The two-hour experience starts with an introduction to Tekapo's beautiful night skies via astronomy and storytelling, and then you have exclusive use of a 38C hot pool as you look skyward in wonder and contemplate your place in the universe.
It's been known to get chilly from time to time in Dunedin, but locals love to warm up with a spot of Hot Yoga at Hot Yoga Dunedin and you can join them if you're visiting. There are four kinds of classes depending on your ability level, and how hot you like the room. Original Hot Yoga, Hot Flow, Yin and Inferno Hot Pilates. Utilising two heating systems (forced air and humidifier or infrared heaters, depending on the class) heat is kept constant and safe. A toned body and an escape from the cold - two birds with one warm stone.
Beautiful Fiordland Lodge provides multiple ways to warm up in one night with their Dine and Dip package. Relax by the fireplace with a cocktail before indulging in a warming three-course trust-the-chef meal then finish off with a soak in their hot tub and sauna overlooking Fiordland National Park. There's no way you can have an ounce of cold in your body by the end of that experience.
For more travel inspiration, go to newzealand.com/nz.
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