by Chad Bennett in Cool Travel on Thursday 12 September 2013

Let’s face it – for most of us, skiing and boarding is an exhilarating but physically taxing exercise. So when presented with the chance to revitalise in hot pools overlooking Lake Tekapo and New Zealand’s Southern Alps at Tekapo Springs, we had to check it out.

Situated in the Mackenzie Basin at the foot of Mount John, the idyllic village of Lake Tekapo has long been a favourite for travellers for its visually stunning scenery. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the lake itself, which gives off a blue-turqiose aura thanks to the glacial flour that descends from the mountainous terrain that towers over the region.

Perched at the end of the Lake Tekapo village is Tekapo Springs. It was founded in 2007 by Karl Burtscher, a local whose father Karl Burtscher Sr bought nearby ski field Roundhill in the 1970s, and features hot pools, a day spa, a European-style sauna/plungepool combination as well as an international-size ice rink and ski-tube park. Not to mention a restaurant that makes coffee that wouldn’t be out of place in a Melbourne cafe.

But the centrepiece is Tekapo Springs’ three hot pools. Shaped in the form of Ohau, Pukaki and Tekapo, the three lakes in the MacKenzie Basin, the hot pools ascend from 36 degrees up to 38 and then 40 degrees. Soaking muscles that were crying out for a well-earned rest while gazing out over the near-mythical scenery that Lake Tekapo offers was simply mind-blowing, and the total-body experience lasts well beyond the point when you finally drag yourself out of the hot pools.

As all Cantabrians are, Burtscher has been mindful of the glorious environment that engulfs the land in constructing and operating Tekapo Springs. The main building has been constructed using Larch trees cut and milled on site, while the hot pools are warmed sustainably using heat generated from the refrigeration system that helps freeze the ice rink. In summer, water is drawn from Lake Tekapo itself in a process which heats the hot pools and sends cooled water back into the lake. As a result, Tekapo Springs generates at least four kilowatts for every kilowatt of energy used. This commitment to ecologically sustainable practices has earned Tekapo Springs New Zealand’s Qualmark Enviro-Gold status, the highest green recognition available for tourism operators in the country.

With Lake Tekapo also a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking and boating activities in the summer, Tekapo Springs operates as a year-round destination. As of November, it will also house the world’s largest inflatable waterslide, the Trippo, which spans an impressive 11 metres (36 feet) high and 53 metres (175 feet) in length, and will occupy the (disused, of course) ice rink space throughout the warmer months. The Trippo is one of only four of its kind in the world, and will be the first outside of the United States.