Sylvia Flats Hot Springs [Destroyed by slip 20 Jan 2017)

Sylvia Flats Hot Springs [Destroyed by slip 20 Jan 2017)
State Highway 7, 15km south of Lewis Pass

Location info is accurate. Heaven on earth! Usually at least 2 natural hot pools dug out and rock-ringed – 1 large and hot, 1 medium-sized and warm. By a mountain river. Sometimes flooded out. Lots of sandflies. [Alice Evatt, New Zealand]


Approx 20kms south past the Maruia Springs thermal resort. Access is via the picnic area on the right hand side of the road at the up stream end of the car park, only a couple minutes walk via a stony track, right on the river edge (its obvious, and if you can smell it, your nearly there!). 2 small pools when we saw them. Only just enough for two people, and one smaller pool, about 50cm deep. Free, natural, and heaps of sandflies, but fun and warm!! [John Pollard, New Zealand]

    Coming from the West Coast:
  • 1.1 kms from 'Dans Creek' bridge

  • 2.7 kms south of the NZDA hut and 'nina valley track' entrance

    Coming from Christchurch:
  • 2.7 kms north of Magdalen Valley road/ Boyle River turn off

Turn into the rest stop, track is beside the river down a short track. The smell tells all when you're getting near! Definitely well worth going. [Hunter Family, Invercargill]

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Bather Reviews
Don't give up on these springs just yet. I popped in a couple of weeks ago to see whether anything had changed over the last few years. Reaching the vicinity of where the pools used to be I was immediately aware of the strong smell of sulphur in the air. The water level of the river must have been just right as I was able to find two small warm pools at the river edge. The largest of these pools was only about 30 x 30 cm and around 10cm deep. The smaller one was only just larger than my fist. The temperature of the pools appeared to be mid to high 30s, although this was just a judgement call from the feel of them. The river level was quite low and a rise of just two or three centimetres would be enough to hide the pools completely. I left a cairn to mark the larger pool but it won't survive the next decent rain. Hopefully, this is early signs of the springs re-establishing themselves and a few more years will see them usable again.
Rating: 2/10
Straggler - Auckland
21th January 2021
Could no longer find the hot pools...would it be possible to re-dig? Such a shame.....Any way of locating the original source of water?
Rating: -/10
Edd - England
12th October 2018
The total destruction of Sylvia Flats Hot Polls is now happening. Contractors arrived about Monday 7 May 2018 are are building a rock wall beside the river and a road along the cliff bottom. When finished there will be a placed rock wall dropping into the river with deep river water. This is being done to save the road above. There will never be hot water here again. The only hope of a pool will be crossing the river when it is low and exploring the other side, IF they leave the car park open. The other pools at the bush edge across the river were covered by the expanding shingle fan some years ago. All this is the result of the large slip in the head of the creak across from the car park. This slip has for years feed gravel into the Lewis river, keeping the river bed higher than normal. This gravel "wave" finished some years back and the river bed level drop up to 1000mm over the next few years. This led to erosion of the banks by the pools and the under cutting of the road cliff. The river "fall" that was 100m up stream of the pool is now at the pools and the river coarse is now toward the pools and the cliff. I visited the pools the night the first erosion of the cliff started. I have got video of trees and rock falling into the river. The bottom of the cliff is now some 10m closer to the road. This looks to be the end of the only road side free pool in the south island. I would like to add a photo of the digger that is there now. Owen
Rating: 10/10
Owen Pearson - New Zealand
14th May 2018
Massive slip decimates Sylvia Flats Hot Springs, Lewis Pass: 20th January 2017 The famous Sylvia Flats natural thermal hot springs that has been a secret haven for locals and their friends for years, has disappeared following a massive landslip in the advent of the torrential rainfalls on the West Coast on 20th January 2017. The Lewis Pass region is host to numerous natural thermal waters, many in remote locations accessible only on foot. Sylvia Flats is located alongside the Lewis River, 20 kms past the Maruia Springs thermal resort. The weekend's downpour triggered a slip on the side of the highway, completely burying the geothermal pools. The access track from the car park has also completely collapsed . A DOC warning sign has long warned thermal bathers to not use the pools and be mindful of rockfalls, however has not deterred visitors to experience the wonder of the natural geothermal pools, that usually reach 40 degrees.
Rating: 1/10
Michael Moore - Christchurch, New Zealand
22th January 2017
opened 2016. Two warm bath. Lot of sunflies. Beautiful view. To find, if you come from the south you will see a direction sign with a 'HOT' on. Parking Take care of the pool. Enjoy
Rating: -/10
Jonathan - FRANCE
13th March 2016
Went there in winter with constant rockfalls from the exposed cliff above. Walk through the river across to the other bank and there are several springs coming up out of the ground. Just take a shovel and be prepared to dig them out. Took 10 minutes and then we were able to enjoy them all day.
Rating: 8/10
Sam - Christchurch
03th November 2015
Springs were warm but not overly hot, more work on creating other pools was underway, the pools are so close to the road and the driving directions are spot on.
Rating: 8/10
timder -
31st January 2013
My girlfriend & I finally found the mythical springs after several false starts this month (Sep). Totally beautiful and perfect! Hot pools, all to ourselves and perfect if you are camping at the DOC camp up the road (Deer Valley). Worth the search and definitely will go back....
Rating: 9/10
The Whiskey Priest - Nelson
11th September 2012

Rating: 9/10
Jan Emr - Czech Republic
19th December 2011
Great to find hot springs so close to the road. They were amazing to lie in as the sun sunk below the hills and the moon shone bright. Shame about the the sandflies and the filthy people who use the bush instead of the long drop to do their business. It is disgusting.
Rating: 8/10
David and Chrissie - NZ
16th January 2011
was great after a long day trip to Nelson, to be shown this natural beauty during the day, ppl are right about sandflies they are painful, but i was fortunate to go back about one in the morning for a stop off. it was fantastic especially on a clear night its so peaceful and a great place to relax with a loved one or with friends. Ill be back
Rating: 10/10
anna - Timaru
20th January 2009
these pools are incredible - we love this place and drop in whenever we are near. Don't be fooled by negative reviews... if the pools are "murky" it just means they've cooled down enough to allow algae to grow - go dig a new one. If it's just a "puddle" you need to dig... don't be so soft! 1] take something to dig with. 2] take a lot of water 3] go at night when the sandflies are sleeping (don't pollute the water with your insect repellent!) 4] don't get upset if you see people there without clothes - it's the done thing. 5] take something warm to wear in winter when you're getting in and out. it's a great place to sit back and explore new ideas with people...
Rating: 10/10
glen - christchurch
20th November 2008
a horrible, sandfly-infested murky, luke-warm puddle. lovely surroundings, but hardly worth the effort. don't mean to sound negative, but i'd like to be honest to save others the disappointment and trouble. It was fun hunting it out and discovering a real thermal spring in nature, but honestly, if you want thermal pools, just go to maruia thermal resort up the road. OK, it cost $15, but they have 3 huge natural-looking outdoor pools (with rocks and shrubs and stuff) with views across the river and up the mountains and tranquil native bush surroundings. Also various indoor pools and bathhouse. But would not recommend Hamner Springs at all, as it is a municipal facility in the town center, much like soviet-style public pools and is way too commercial and full of wrinkly old folk from the nearby nursing facility.
Rating: 2/10
Brendon -
23rd October 2008

Rating: 10/10
dave - blenheim
11th July 2008
June visit is the answer - no biting insects and water warm enough to soak for and extended period. Cold getting in/out though!
Rating: 8/10
Steve -
15th June 2008
Quirky and unexpected. Easy access, and a good point to stop on the road between east and west. Coming from Christchurch, you pass a sign that says Welcome to the Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve. Just a few seconds after that you see a blue picnic area sign. Turn down a gravel road which has some big pot holes. A picnic area by the river has a toilet at the downstream end. At the upstream end of the picnic area, a track follows beside the river for about 2 to 3 minutes walk to the hot springs which are identified by their mild sulphurous smell. Not hot, just warm normally. Usually one pool big enough for 2-3 people. Sometimes more than one pool. Sandflies are a big problem. DEET insect repellent necessary for the face and any body parts not underwater!
Rating: 7/10
James - Christchurch NZ
31st October 2007
Maruia was closed so tried to find the mythical Sylvia Flats and we were richly rewarded, beautiful natural spot, snow capped peaks, wish the sandflies hadn't eaten my face though!
Rating: 9/10
Sally - Nelson
31st August 2007
Usually a choice of 3 or more pools which are largely maintained by members of the Deerstalkers Assn. Lots and lots of sandfly's - repellant a necessity. Pools recommended just for the hell of it - great in Winter with snow.
Rating: 8/10
Diane - Nelson, New Zealand
6th September 2005
the only 'pool' (Aug 2014) is ankle deep and about 1m by 1m. would need some digging out to be worth getting changed. the land slip is covering the area upstream of the pool, presume this is where the original pools are.
Rating: -/10
Matt - UK
6th August 2014
Pools are currently a few small pools. Directions coming from Christchurch are perfect, but there is no sign for picnic area, just a dirt track. Best to follow it as far as possible upstream, then walk upstream along the river for 100 meters or so and you will see the pools. Not too deep and it is sandfly heaven as expected!
Rating: -/10
Matthew - Ireland
12th January 2014
10/10 amazing place springs where not to hot. even better enjoying in the nude
Rating: -/10
lisa -
7th January 2014
been there several times over the years.So handy to the road when going via the Lewis..sandflies are murder!make you get undressed & into the water very quickly!!
Rating: 9/10
gerry thompson -
2nd January 2013
DOC has closed access due to rockfall - no outflow from what I could tell with all the erosion from the riverbank
Rating: -/10
Ciel Sander - Salmon Arm, BC Canada
6th December 2011
Great experience, been twice recentl. First time river was high and so best pools washed out. Second time - much better. Pools generally well scooped out on arrival and if it's not winter (no sandflies) get some repellent on your face and immerse yourself horizontal up to your neck
Rating: 8/10
Julian - Timaru
7th February 2010
i give it 10 out of 10 for the location, and only at nite as its safe without any sandflies and its heavenly!
Rating: 10/10
naveen - australia
1st January 2009
i wonder if you just found the 1st hole then turned around and went back? myself and some family members stayed there a sat night about a week after the big storm and snow july/august and the pools were bigger than ever thanks to some ppl doing a lot of digging. took my wet beanie off inside the camper and in the morn it was frozen solid and another guy had serious frost on his dash haha. Interesting in the morning to see more steam rising from 3 or 4 spots on the other side of river and evidence of some rocks been moved, have to wait til the summer trip for further exploration was just to bloody cold
Rating: -/10
dave -
26th October 2008
This place was introduced to me as "Sandfly Flats" for good reason. I have been to that pool many times, liberally covered with repellent to minimise the biting. It makes for a welcome stop on the road to/from Nelson.
Rating: 8/10
Rob - Auckland, NZ
28th April 2008
Located in riverbed on the trueleft of the river. The pools are quite shallow and require redigging after flooding of the river.
Rating: -/10
Pete Hurst - ChCh
18th April 2008
The best way to enjoy this pool is to drape yourself in a mosquito net before getting in, otherwise you will be driven mad by the sandflies.
Rating: 5/10
Rod - Nelson
1st October 2007
Watch out for the sand flys
Rating: -/10
Mike -
15th March 2007
S42.49034 E172.38672 Well worth it!
Rating: 5/10
Graeme - NZ
10th February 2007
Lovely, isolated small pools, surrounded by beautiful New Zealand bush and mountains, with a stream running right beside it. Very well worth it! Would definitely recommend these!
Rating: -/10
Hunter Family - Invercargill
19th January 2007
man o man what a night was had in the hot pool, about 6 hours for 5 people, awesome setting, thought it was getting cold about midnight, awoke to fresh snow on the tops
Rating: 9/10
Dave - Blenheim/ NZ
23rd January 2006

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Your Review of Sylvia Flats Hot Springs [Destroyed by slip 20 Jan 2017):
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[23 votes]

Owen Pearson
Source: The total destruction of Sylvia Flats Hot Polls is now happening. Contractors arrived May 2018 and are building a rock wall beside the river and a road along the cliff bottom. When finished there will be a rock wall dropping into the river with deep river water. This is being done to save the road … Continue reading Sylvia Flats Hot Springs [Destroyed by slip 20 Jan 2017)
Richard R
Source: The cliff face on the highway side of the river is too dangerous to use the pool there. We formed a pool on the other side of the river opposite the parking area which is big enough for 2/3 people. Water was Hot.
Source: Taken Jan 2010. Timaru, NZ. Featuring Paul (Hampton, Arden, UK)
the Hunter Family
Source: Invercargill
the Hunter Family
Source: Invercargill
Bernard Smith
Source: Dunedin