Hot pools offer 'nice, passive activity'

The Alpine Springs hot pools at Lake Tekapo, which offer views across the lake. Photo by Sally Rae.
The Alpine Springs hot pools at Lake Tekapo, which offer views across the lake. Photo by Sally Rae.
A Queenstown Lakes Districts Council camping ground manager, Erna Spijkerbosch, says it's important Queenstown ''refreshes'' what it offers tourists, and plans for a hot pool complex may fit the bill.

''If people have a great idea, and they can make the figures stack, why not?''

Ngai Tahu Tourism on Monday unveiled plans to build a $25 million pool complex in Queenstown.

The matter is due for discussion at a meeting of the council today. She believed hot pools would appeal to a sector of the market looking for something beyond adventure activities.

''For myself, I will go to a hot pool before I will bungy-jump.

''This is a nice, passive, non-adrenaline water activity.''

The pool complex, next to the town's proposed convention centre, would be the resort's second. The owner of the Onsen Hot Pools facility at Arthurs Point, Tony Williams, said the development would be a ''good fit'' for the town's infrastructure.

Mr Williams said his group considered a centre-of-town location before settling on Arthurs Point, preferring its ''genuine fresh-air and peace and quiet'' and distance from ''the boisterous and occasionally troublesome Queenstown party atmosphere''.

''Ours is a boutique product that aims to give individuals, couples and small groups a taste of Queenstown's more tranquil side.

''The proposed centre-of-town facility serving nearly 1000 people per day is likely to provide a qualitatively different experience.''

Ngai Tahu's plans include 12 large public hot pools and other facilities.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd was reluctant to comment on the proposal.

''All I have seen is what I have read in the [ODT] and it's just a concept. So, until a project comes to some sort of firmer fruition, it's not something I sort of comment on.

''There are new attractions arriving in Queenstown regularly.

''There are quite a few new products that have already been established this year alone,'' he said.

The nzhotpools.co.nz website lists 27 hot pools in the South Island, ranging from back country ''warm puddles'' to opulent constructions like Ngai Tahu's Glacier Hot Pools complex in Franz Josef.

Representatives from two South Island hot pools were positive about the value of the attractions. Owner of Franz Josef's Glenfern Villas Kim Rankin said the pools in the tourist village were of ''huge'' benefit, providing visitors with a wet-weather option.

''Coming down off a mountain, often people just want to plunge into the pool.

''It's certainly enhanced the whole area.''

Tekapo Springs general manager Cathy Hemsworth said each of the main pool complexes in the South Island - at Tekapo, Franz Josef and Hanmer Springs - had their points of difference. Tekapo had an ice rink and snow tube in the winter and a water slide in the summer.

Ms Hemsworth said it was ''hugely'' important to offer more than just hot pools to sit in - particularly in summer when tourists would rather brave cold lakes than hot pools.

- mark.price@odt.co.nz