Sitting in a steaming hot pool of water, I draw in lung full of the cold mountain air around me. What seems like a scene right out of Game of Thrones, at the geothermal spa in the Southern islands of New Zealand, volcanic mineral rich water from the hot springs rejuvenates me while a horizon full of snow-capped mountains stare back at me. By Sudipto De

1. Tekapo Springs, South Island

Located about three hours away from the Christchurch, the road to Tekapo is a stark landscape interspersed with green of various shades. Tekapo Springs has three distinct hot pools, which seamlessly blend into the surroundings. Each is named and shaped like the region’s famous lakes: Ohau, Pukaki and Tekapo. Coupled with this are two cooler pools at the Glacial Day spa. Here, the presence of benched seating in the pools allows you to sit back in the water and relax. Ohau even has water curtains, which create a light, soothing effect while Pukaki has massage jets to relieve aches. On the other hand, Tekapo — the largest of the three, offers a gorgeous view of the Two Thumb Mountain Ranges, all encased in snow.

But that’s not the only thing that Tekapo offers you! Home to the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, Tekapo even has some of the clearest skies in the whole world and amazing opportunities for stargazing. In fact, during summer you can book yourself a stargazing trail. This celestial journey spans for a couple of hours including a dip in the hot pool while gazing at the sky. In winters, Tekapo also has an amazing set of snow slopes.

2. Polynesian Spa, Rotorua, North Island

Our next spa is deep inside Maori territory in Rotorua. Here, hot spring water, known as Waiariki, are considered a blessing from the Gods themselves. At the Polynesian Spa, the water from two different hot springs is mixed and sent to 28 different pools. Then, one can choose which pool to enter. On one hand, alkaline pools help relax and loosen muscles, on the other hand the acidic ones help recharge your batteries. Established in 1972, the Polynesian Spa has became famous for it’s bubbling mud pools and hissing fumaroles, which let out steam at any time. There are also a number of mud therapies here, which you must plan to indulge in. Rich in minerals and silica, these therapies help rejuvenate the skin and boosts immunity. This priceless mud is also available in the form of packs and scrubs at the spa’s retail shop.

3. Free Geothermal spas

Being in New Zealand’s Geothermal capital Rotorua, it’s only natural for there to be numerous hot springs and geysers here. If you’re not in the mood for splashing out a bomb to access nature’s beauty, head to the Kerosene Creek where the water is cooled down by a naturally occurring waterfall. In other places like the Hot Water Beach at Coromandel Bay and Kawhia springs in Waitomo, the hot water mixes with the cold sea water, allowing you to enjoy it properly. For added fun, simply get yourself a spade and start digging in the mud once the tide goes down to make yourself your own mini pool.

Although the low tide timings are displayed online, do head there an hour or two before to grab your place on the crowded beaches. Upon reaching early, you can dig your mini pool and enjoy the warmth to your heart’s content. If you’re in the mood for some adventure, take the seven-hour trek to the Welcome Flat Hot pools located on the Copland river near the Fox Glacier in the West Coast of the South Island. Although the trek could get tiring, the view is well worth the pain.

4. Hanmer Springs, Canterbury, South Island

If you’re bringing the family along, Hanmer Springs, located just 90 minutes north of Christchurch in Canterbury, is the perfect place to be. Not only does it offer a range of cascade pools, Sulphur pools and rock pools to enjoy the hot springs, but there are also quite a few activities to keep the kids engaged such as hydro-slides and fresh water pools replete with waterfalls and spouts. Pamper yourself with a Hot Stone massage at the spa here. During the treatment, hot volcanic basalt rocks are placed at different points on your body, and are then used to rub out any knots and tight muscles.

5. Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools

Although New Zealand may not be a tropical country, but the Glacier Hot pools near the base of Franz Josef offers a unique experience locked within the forest. The area offers a green canopy to gaze at while relaxing in the waters of the hot pools and thermal baths. Native bush and bird life also find a space here. While here, trod along a majestic hiking route in the nearby glacier as well.

Related: An Essential Trip Guide To The North Island Of New Zealand