Otehake River Hot Springs

Otehake River Hot Springs
West Coast
Otehake Wilderness Area, Arthur\'s Pass

I went here with the Canterbury University Tramping Club (CUTC) in about 1994 as one of my first tramps. The hot pool is in the true right branch of the riverjust downstream from an island in the middle. I guess it changes all the time and every time there is a flood. We went in and enjoyed the hot pools at night, it was fantastic! The pool was big enough for about a dozen people I guess, maybe more. We put up some fly sheets and ground sheets and slept in the area beside the river on the true right. This was very uncomfortable because there was no flat ground so I had tree roots in my back… Anyway, overnight the rain came down and in the morning the river was flooded! We had to stay an extra day because it was not safe to cross. Luckily a newbie had put a kilo of rice in his backpack so we pooled our leftover food and made a big pot of flavoured rice stew. Walked out the next day. Hot pools probably get washed out every flood and need to be rebuilt/dug out. Only suitable if river is low/normal. [Benjamin Franzmayr, New Zealand]


From Arthurs Pass, drive SH73 to Aickens Corner. Park on right hand side. Walk to Otira river and cross over if safe to do so. Expect a waist-deep crossing!NOTE: if you do not have rivercrossing experience, park further towards Arthurs Pass where there is a swingbridge. This adds time to your walk but is worth it for safety\'s sake. My sister in law was in a party of not-very experienced people who lost their footing, got washed away and one of the party drowned on that exact spot. Don\'t risk it.Once on the other side it\'s an easy walk up the Taramakau valley and turn right into Pfeifer Creek, the first small valley. Follow track past Lake Kaurapataka. There is a short steep climb and descent over a saddle and then turn right up the river. After several more relatively deep river crossings you come to the steaming hot pools beside/in front of the island in the river. Total time of about 3-4 hours. [Benjamin Franzmayr, New Zealand]

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Bather Reviews
River low, no rain for a week. Walked in via lake karapataka and eased up through the gorge river crossings. Beware a wasp nest on track between lake and saddle! Pools still awesome after ten years .camped the night and walked out via Otehake river bed in good conditions.
Rating: 9/10
Fran Cohen - Nz
27th February 2022
Thanks for the info - I went to these pools based on the info in this website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-A74DUXwFg
Rating: -/10
Joshua Johnson - Christchurch
15th May 2021
Walk is dog shit from the otira side , but it’s 100% worth the hot pools , some of the best in NZ in my book.
Rating: 10/10
Adrian - Christchurch
23th November 2020
Very good, very hot. Best spot is behind two large boulders in the dried up creek bed on the true right side of the island. Good campsite and two shovels provided. So hot you will need cold water out of the small creek to cool the pools.
Rating: 10/10
Nick macbeth - Cheviot
25th April 2018
.the pools were colder than my past experience's \ may be caused by recent earthquake's.march 2013 dont try geting to the pools via the edwards/falling mountain route.its very bad.
Rating: 5/10
jean gray - new zealand
11th September 2013
Went last weekend and my experience was much the same as others. Rivers were up everywhere do to a few days of rain so used the flood trail from the Otira foot bridge and the blood trail up following the otehake, coming down from the hill a few k's north of the springs. These two trails upped our time quite a bit, if you've a heavy pack the blood trail is a mission climbing over under and around fallen trees. Luckily, the Hot (burning hot) springs are worth it, just take your time getting the right mix of hot and cold then build your walls for the pool (if not previously built). The island has camping spots, and there is a short 3m track that leads toward the east side of the island. The hot pools are about 5m north of where that path comes out. look for steam, if that fails dip your hand in each puddle till you nearly burn your hand and bingo! It can be a popular spot in the weekends, we had to share with a pack on trampers that came up that day, but it's high spirits all around so no worries. I'd recommend doing it when the rivers are low, it's save you 3-4 odd hours
Rating: 8/10
Bear - Chch
8th February 2012
A very hot summer with out much range for a month meant Otahake River levels are very low. they allowed us to make a day walk from Lake Karapataka to the hot pools. We started down the flood route, or "blood " route as someone had written on the sign, but turned back after 5 min, taking the other trail which descended to Otahake River Valley. We walked up the gorge, crossing the river several times. We had our 8 yr old daughter with us, and she had an exhilerating day in togs in very hot weather. I would not attempt with a child if river was higher, as it seemed to be 1-2 m lower than usual. Hot pools had been built by previous users, and were easy to spot. We spent a couple of hours soaking before walking 2.6 km back to base camp for a second night listening to the birds at Lake Karapataka.
Rating: 8/10
F Cohen - Greymouth, NZ
11th January 2012
Long walk, saw a oppossum. Disapointing "pool"
Rating: 1/10
W Pathan - Pakistan
17th November 2011
Camped beside Lake Kaurapataka which was sweet. Took longer than expected to get to hot pools probably around 4.5+hrz. Using the swingbridge at Otira river would add another 2hrz on to this. Track is good for the most part although the path leading off to the hot pools is completely overgrown so we ended following the river up. Pools were great around 4-5 of varying temps, you can camp here as well and there is a shovel if you need to dig out the pools.
Rating: 8/10
Anthony -
6th November 2010
Amazing. Loved the hot soak
Rating: 10/10
Astrid Rehauati - New Zealand
23rd May 2010
Visited the site last weekend, track is really hard going now, overgrown and really slow going. The pools are no way as good as they were last visit 12 months ago, I suspect the river has been flooded over winter. The spring is now only a trickle.
Rating: 2/10
Adam W - Christchurch
23rd November 2009
This Pool has been largely washed away - Track has been badly effected by windfall and is overgrown
Rating: 1/10
Elliot H - Cromwell
16th September 2009
Great hotpools, my fave on the south island so far. Great location and great walk, good camping right by pools. Pools can be dug out quite deep and room for 6 people or more in two pools. Gravel bottom and sandflies can be extreme here in the day so best at night. Route their is in poor state in places with falling trees blocking the steep track to the gorge and parts of the track covered with fallen wood so take care to not get lost. Flood route from lake to otehake river is hard going and also in a poor state at the moment. Do not underestimate the Otehake, the crossings are deep and fast flowing at the best of times. Do not go if the rivers are even up a little. If the Otira is hard to cross dont bother! The pools are easy to find, just head up the Otehake until you see a island with trees and the pools are in the flood channel at the side. Pools may need repair or digging out after floods.
Rating: 9/10
Mark -
12th June 2009
Great spot. But don't underestimate the crossing of the Otehake...a big river much of the time, especially after rain. Walk one way passed Lake Kaurapataka...lovely spot, and back via the "gorge" if river permits. JR
Rating: 9/10
16th March 2007

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Fran Cohen
Warner Milne
Source: Christchurch – 27 Sep 07
N. Tomkinson
N. Tomkinson