Top 5 Wild Swimming Places in New Zealand


If you love to swim, New Zealand has many spots to entice you. It is also one of the most effective exercises. New Zealand could be an ideal destination offering excellent outdoor therapy.

It is enriched with glorious beaches and a patchwork of rivers, lakes, and waterholes, perfect to take a dip or swim in. Here are the Top 5 Wild Swimming Places in New Zealand.

Related read: 10 Natural Destinations to Explore in New Zealand

I have rounded up the NZ top wild swimming spots that are natural to plunge in.

Top 5 Wild Swimming Places in New Zealand

1. Wishbone Falls, Mount Aspiring

Wishbone Falls, Mount Aspiring - Top 5 Wild Swimming Places in New Zealand
Wishbone Falls, Mount Aspiring

This waterfall falls down a steep, grassy rock face and divides into two streams. This fall invites visitors to the entry of Mount Aspiring National Park, which is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Wanaka.

At the centre of the falls sits an idyllic pool, a natural beauty made for days pottering around in the sun.

  • Address: Wishbone Falls Track, Wanaka, New Zealand
  • How to get there: The falls are off State Highway 6, about 15 kilometres south of Wanaka. There is a car park at the trailhead.

It’s the most popular picnic spot, with beautiful flat banks surrounding the water.

You can reach this spot via private land, so be mindful and respectful. Follow Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road for 49 kilometres from Wanaka. The falls are visible from the road. A sign gesturing to the falls leads the way to a track. You can walk down for 10 minutes to reach the foot of the falls.

2. Lake Mackenzie, Fiordland National Park

Lake Mackenzie, Fiordland National Parkc
Lake Mackenzie, Fiordland National Parkc

This water is covered by an alpine circle, where snow-covered mountains round off a breathtaking picturesque.

t is one of the deepest lakes in New Zealand, with a maximum depth of 722 meters.

This lake is in the South Island’s Fiordland National Park (the region where the famed Milford Sound is). It is one of the country’s most naturally enriched areas, with the shore covered with campgrounds and huts for those who want to take things in for a bit longer.

  • Address: Lake Mackenzie, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
  • How to get there: The lake is off State Highway 94, about 80 kilometres south of Te Anau. There is a car park at the end of the road.

Lake Mackenzie is a little tough to reach, but it is one to make hikers happy. The lake is a highlight along the Routeburn Track. It is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks. Lake Mackenzie is about a 4-6 hour walk from the Divide, Milford Road (reached via Te Anau).

3. Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera

Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera
Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera

The Coromandel Peninsula’s Hot Water Beach is one of the famous places enjoying a lot of attention, but that’s not due to the hot water beach there is much more to check out. The little-known Hot Water Beach campsite is situated in a secluded bay of Lake Tarawera.

The beach is known for its hot springs, which bubble up from the sand at low tide. Visitors can dig their hot pools in the sand and enjoy a relaxing soak.

  • Address: Hot Water Beach, Waiotapu, New Zealand
  • How to get there: The beach is off State Highway 30, about 50 kilometres south of Rotorua. There is a car park at the beach.

Make your hole in the lakeside sand to bathe in, or take a short (signposted) walk away from the lake to discover a piping-hot natural spa carved out of the earth. The solitariness of this location can certainly pay dividends as you escape the crowd of travellers.

If you have time, pack your tent and trek the 4-5 hour lakeside track to Hot Water Beach campsite.

4. Pori Pori, Lower Kaimai

Pori Pori, Lower Kaimai
Pori Pori, Lower Kaimai

This waterhole has large rock structures and a lush forest bursting with ferns. You can sit in the naturally occurring, almost perfectly human-sized bath holes. You can also ‘pop a manu’- slang for a water bomb, as many locals do.

The spa comprises a series of hot pools, waterfalls, and mud pools.

  • Address: Pori Pori, Waiorongomai, New Zealand
  • How to get there: The spa is off State Highway 29, about 60 kilometres south of Tauranga. There is a car park at the spa.

This spot is located just off State Highway 29 on Poripori Road. You must understand that the first glimpse of water is not the swimming spot. Cross the elevated section of the Wairoa River and find other people’s footsteps through the blackberry shrubs and native grass known as toi toi. Here, the river converts into a deep pool you can plunge into.

5. Kerosene Creek, Rotorua

Kerosene Creek, Rotorua
Kerosene Creek, Rotorua

Are you craving free hot pools? It is the dream for most travellers, a luxury many countries envy, and others often charge to access. Rotorua is known for some of New Zealand’s most sensational spots.

Kerosene Creek is where geothermal energy heats what would otherwise be a cold creek. It is perfect for relaxing and rejuvenating. Reach here to rest and relax, with the picturesque view of a petite 2m waterfall and a backdrop of the North Island bush.

Kerosene Creek is a thermal spa located in Rotorua. Hot springs feed the creek, and the water is warm enough to swim in. 

  • Address: Kerosene Creek, Rotorua, New Zealand
  • How to get there: The creek is off State Highway 5, about 5 kilometres south of Rotorua. There is a car park at the creek.

Kerosene Creek is about 57km north of Taupo and 28km south of Rotorua on State Highway 5. Beware of the turnoff at Old Waiotapu Road. The end shows a grassed area where vehicles can park. A word of warning: this area is known for theft. Keep valuables well hidden, or take them with you.

Suggested read:

Suggested read: Which is The Right Time of Year to Visit New Zealand?

Legality of Swimming in New Zealand

It is generally legal to swim in New Zealand. However, there are some restrictions and regulations in place. For example, it is illegal to swim in areas with signs prohibiting swimming, such as at some waterfalls and hot springs. It is also illegal to swim in areas where there are health risks, such as where there is sewage or other pollutants.

It is also important to note that swimming in New Zealand can be dangerous, even in areas where swimming is legal. Several factors can contribute to swimming accidents, such as cold water temperatures, strong currents, and hidden hazards. It is essential to be aware of these risks and to take precautions to stay safe when swimming in New Zealand.

Here are some tips for staying safe when swimming in New Zealand:

  • Swim in areas that lifeguards supervise.
  • Be aware of the water temperature and currents.
  • Swim within your limits.
  • Do not swim alone.
  • Be aware of hidden hazards, such as rocks and underwater plants.
  • Wear a life jacket if you are not a strong swimmer.

Also, read – Top Tips to Prepare for a Trip to New Zealand


Ans – Wild swimming, also known as open water swimming, involves taking a dip in natural bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and oceans. New Zealand’s stunning landscapes and pristine waters make it a hotbed for wild swimming enthusiasts.

Q. Is wild swimming safe in New Zealand?

Ans – While New Zealand offers incredible opportunities for wild swimming, it’s essential to be cautious. Always check local guidelines, be aware of potential hazards, and swim with a buddy if possible. Safety should be a top priority.

Q. Are there any specific regulations for wild swimming in New Zealand?

Ans – Regulations may vary from place to place. Some areas might have restrictions on swimming due to conservation efforts or safety concerns. It’s crucial to research and follow any rules and regulations in the specific location where you plan to swim.

Q. What are the best times of the year for wild swimming in New Zealand?

Ans – New Zealand’s summers, from December to February, are generally the best times for wild swimming in New Zealand due to warmer water temperatures. However, some adventurous swimmers also enjoy the crisp waters during the shoulder seasons.

Q. What are some unique experiences associated with wild swimming in New Zealand?

Ans – New Zealand offers opportunities to swim near waterfalls, glacial lakes, and even alongside dolphins in some coastal areas. These unique experiences make wild swimming in New Zealand genuinely unforgettable.

Q. How can I find more information about specific wild swimming locations in New Zealand?

Ans – You can consult local tourism websites, guidebooks, or online communities dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, contacting locals or joining social media groups focused on wild swimming in New Zealand can provide valuable insights.


These are some of the most popular and widely flocked wild swimming spots you can visit during your New Zealand vacation. With its vast and diverse landscapes, New Zealand offers a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who love to swim.

Each of these top 5 wild swimming spots – Wishbone Falls, Mount Aspiring, Lake Mackenzie, Fiordland National Park, Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera, Pori Pori, Lower Kaimai, and Kerosene Creek, Rotorua – is a unique jewel waiting to be discovered.

Every spot, with its picturesque landscapes, offers not just a refreshing swim but an unforgettable experience. Whether it’s the thrill of diving into an idyllic pool at the foot of a waterfall, the serenity of camping by an alpine lake, the joy of soaking in a natural hot water spa, or the exhilaration of taking a plunge in a deep forest pool, these places have something for everyone.

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.