“Maruia Hot Springs is a historical natural thermal mineral spring located in the beautiful Lewis Pass National Reserve. The property is surrounded by pristine primary native beech forest and rugged high mountains. In New Zealand’s indigenous language Maori, “Maruia,” appropriately translates to shelter, haven or comfortable place. ” (from the website – see below)
A beautiful ‘moment in time‘
Leaving Christchurch on a sunny Sunday morning, aiming for Maruia Springs and the natural mineral hot pools, we drove off into the foothills of the Southern Alps, the long line of mountains along the South Island. The clouds looked like they were promising what the weather forecast had forewarned—wind, rain, and snow.
We stopped at Hanmer Springs a tourist town nestled into the foothills, popular with tourists for skiing, summer adventure sports, and commercial hot springs created into pools of varying size and temperature. Having lunch by the gas fire, we watched the rain begin before getting back onto the road toward the Lewis Pass (907m 2,976ft). Driving alongside the river flats of the wide Waiau River, we started the rise towards the pass as the rain ‘pelted’ down and the wind blew in big gusts.
Over Lewis Pass to the Springs
Arriving at Maruia Springs, on the West Coast side of the pass and nestled beside the Maruia River, we were soon booked into our room.
We quickly got into the natural pools surrounded by rocks to enjoy soaking in the hot mineral water. The rain fell steady and cold but the heat of the water soon dispelled any worry about the continuous stream of rather large drops! After an hour we reluctantly got out; however, after a fine dinner of delicious platter food in the lounge, in front of the warm open wood fire, we headed to the indoor hot pool. Here we had a chat with other travellers while again enjoying a wonderfully warm soak.
Snow, snow and more snow!
Awaking the next morning to the sound of absolute quiet, a sound familiar in a mountain retreat, I looked out the window to a scene of winter white.
Excitedly we packed, had breakfast and did our checkout before hopping into the warm water for a beautiful final hour-long soak—what could be better than natural mineral hot pools, snow falling all around and landing onto our warm bodies. Bliss!
Back on the road in the snow
After some time we heard that the road had been re-opened towards our next destination which was Karamea on the Northern end of the West Coast—as far as the main road goes. And so we were off again. The final downhill run off the Lewis Pass had been cleared of snow making for easy driving. At Springs Junction, we turned onto the road to the town of Reefton and ‘the Coast’. We again climbed in altitude and soon the snow was falling thick as we crossed the beautiful Rahu saddle (675m, 2214 ft). The trees were draped in snow and the mountains caressed in smooth soft white cloud right down to the lowest slopes.
The high peaks were nowhere to be seen amidst the thicker cloud, heavy with snow waiting to be dumped and close the road again. The wonderland of beauty continued, and as we dropped down from the saddle and drove towards Reefton we left the snow behind. Our minds turned towards our coastal destination.