Onsen Hot Pools Queenstown: Guide and Honest Review

Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown
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Queenstown is known as the “Adventure Capital of New Zealand”. There’s an array of adrenaline fuelled activities to do here including bungy jumping, quad biking and skydiving.

Queenstown is also the perfect place in the South Island to relax. Surrounded by the Southern Alps and on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.

There’s a selection of spas in the area, including the famous Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools. These Japanese style hot pools are in a secluded area of Queenstown overlooking a stunning valley and the Shotover River.

As a backpacker on a budget, I always carefully consider which paid activities I want to do in a destination. I’d love to do everything, but sadly my budget does not stretch that far. One thing that had been on my ‘must do’ list for a while though was visiting the Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown.

Views of the valley and Shotover River from the Onsen Hot Poosl in Queenstown
Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools

In this guide, I’ve shared everything you need to know about visiting the famous hot pools in Queenstown. This includes a recap of my experience and whether I think it’s worth the hefty price tag (spoiler: it is).

The Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools aren’t the only hot pools or hot tubs in the South Island. Here are the 11 best hot springs in the South Island.

What are the Onsen Hot Pools?

The Onsen Hot Pools is a boutique spa in Queenstown with cedar-lined Japanese style Onsen pools. The pools are filled with pure water from the surrounding mountains and are heated to 38 degrees.

The Queenstown Hot Pools boast magnificent views over the valley. It’s the perfect place in Queenstown to relax and slow down.

The pools became famous after blowing up on social media. It’s easy to be a little sceptical about social media trends, but these Queenstown hot pools are famous for a reason. It’s one of the most scenic spots in Queenstown.

I’m not sure it gets much better than relaxing in a hot tub, sipping champagne and admiring the gorgeous surrounding mountains. What more could you want?

It really was the perfect place to relax after weeks of hiking and exploring New Zealand’s South Island.

Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown
Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown

How to get to the Queestown hot pools?

The Onsen Hot Pools are located a little out of the main town on Arthurs Point Road.

If you have a car or campervan, you’ll be able to drive to the hot pools. There is ample car parking space, and it’s only a ten-minute drive from the town centre. 

The Onsen Hot Pools also offer a free return shuttle bus from Queenstown’s town centre. This is available on select hot pool sessions. If you require the free shuttle bus, you can filter this option when booking your session.

If you’re looking for a natural hot spring experience, consider visiting Kerosene Creek in Rotorua. 

Which Onsen experience should you book?

When planning your visit to the Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools, you have different hot pools and spa services to choose from.  

The Original Onsen

As the name suggests, these were the first hot pools at Onsen Queenstown. These beautiful hot tubs have a retractable roof so you can decide if you want to be inside or outside. The Original Onsens come with beautiful views of the valley. The session is 60 minutes long and you can have up to four people in the hot tub.

The Outdoor Onsen

The Outdoor Onsen is slightly cheaper than the Original. The main difference is there’s no retractable roof. There is still a temporary roof to protect guests from the elements, but this can’t be altered. The Outdoor Onsen is also slightly more exposed to the elements.

When visiting the Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools, I opted for the Outdoor Onsen. I saw an original Onsen too and didn’t notice too much difference. If you opt for the Outdoor Onsen to save some pennies, you won’t be sacrificing any luxury.

Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown
Outdoor Onsen

The Oval Onsen

This is a unique hot tub in New Zealand. The Oval hot tubs are a little more private and exclusively for individuals or couples. With gorgeous views of the mountains and Shotover River, this is the choice for ultimate relaxation.

Other Spa Facilities

Onsen is also one of the best spas in Queenstown. If you want a treatment as well, there is the option to sign up for the Serenity Soak & Spa. This includes a session in the Oval Onsen followed by a spa treatment.

It’s possible to book the Onsen Hot Pools through Klook

Best time of day to visit the Onsen Hot Pools

The Onsen Hot Pools are the perfect place to relax at any time of the day. Of course, different times of the day have different benefits.


Sunset is by far the most popular time to visit the Onsen Pools. In the right weather, the valley lights up golden as the sun sets over the mountains.

Winter nights are also a popular time to visit the pools. On a clear night, it’s possible to stargaze in the peaceful valley as you relax in the hot pools.

Both sunset and evening sessions are very popular. If you want to visit the Queenstown Hot Pools at either of these times, you’ll need to book well in advance.

I visited the Onsens on a crisp autumn morning. It was a beautiful time of day. I don’t there is a good or bad time to visit the hot pools. Just go with what suits your itinerary.

Is visiting the Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown worth it?

A visit to the Onsen Hot Pools is an absolute must while in Queenstown. While there are other hot springs around the South Island, these serene hot tubs offer luxury on another scale.

When you arrive at the hot pools, you’ll be asked which drinks and snacks you’d prefer for your Onsen session. (Naturally, I opted for the bubbles…) You’ll then be shown to your private Onsen with the rest of your group. This is when your hour slot begins (or 45 minutes if opting or the Oval Onsen).

Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown
Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown

The hot pools come with controls to make sure you have the perfect experience. You can turn the lavish jets on or off and even add cold water for when it gets too hot. At 50-minutes, you’ll be given a ten-minute warning to let you know your session is about to end.

The spa has everything you need for before and after your hot tub soak. Our Outdoor Onsen had its own private shower which we could use during the session. At the end, there were changing rooms with warm showers, towels, dressing gowns and toilets. There were also hair dryers which is always a bonus.

The only thing it lacked was shampoo and conditioner for after your shower. If you want to shower, remember to take this with you.

If you’re keen to experience one of New Zealand’s many hot pools, the Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown are a fantastic option. I’m not always the biggest fan of these types of activities, but there is something so incredible about the setting that instantly relaxes you.

Tekapo is another popular spot in the South Island with some epic hot pools. Consider a stop here on your South Island itinerary. 

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Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools
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