Where to find New Zealand’s best outdoor baths

It seems like every bach and BnB in New Zealand has moved its ablutions outdoors.

In a short space of time, a tub in the scrub has gone from a rustic quirk to a luxurious accommodation must-have.

Carting a copper tub into the wopwops was once the preserve of itinerant pioneers. The obsession with bathing was something Victorians gravely and enigmatically referred to as ‘the cure’. A bath not just a nicety but a necessity. But since building its spa temples in Rotorua in 1908, New Zealand has run hot and cold towards the practice.

This recently tepid attitude can be blamed largely on showers.

However, wood-fired heating and outdoor plumbing has rekindled our obsession with taking a bath outdoors. A quick look at Instagram – or any New Zealand travel Pinterest board – will confirm that bush baths are back.

Because, if you haven’t got a tub outside your tent, have you really gone glamping?

There’s nothing like a bath with unspoiled views of the wild to help you unwind and bask in the feeling of real remoteness. We’ve drawn inspiration from this trend and pooled a collection of our favourite outdoor baths in New Zealand.

From luxury retreats to rustic eco-baches, there’s something on every budget to soak up the scenery from.

Sand flies be damned!

The Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Homestead & Eco Sanctuary, Wanaka

This high-country homestead set in the hills over Wanaka is on the more luxurious end of the spectrum. It’s situated at the end of a short helicopter transfer, at the top of Glendhu Bay. Looking out over 55,000 hectares of South Island ranch, you’ll find fewer baths more glamorous.

Pay 2, stay 3 – from $1100 per night; mahuwhenua.co.nz

Te Tui Dome, Taupo

On the side of farmland polka dotted by sheep, you’ll get incredible views for Lake Taupo from the luxurious outdoor tub. It’s just 15 minutes away from Taupo’s famous thermal baths – but why would you leave these views?

From $290; canopycamping.co.nz/te-tuhi-dome

Donkey Bay Inn, Russell

I’d be an ass not to include Donkey Bay Inn on our list of New Zealand’s best tubs. The single piece stone baths – there are two – look over stunning views of Waitata Bay in the Bay of Islands.

In keeping with the quirky nature of the boutique hotel, you’ll find a ‘naturist beach’ at the bottom of the outcrop. Fortunately the bush bath is high up over Donkey Bay, for more private bathing. These views are too good to share.

From $426 per night; donkeybayinn.co.nz

River Bothy bath, Mangonui

You’ll find this tub at the very top of the Winterless north. Set in a secluded olive grove, the off-the-grid bothy brings you back to nature. Most of the materials are reclaimed from a 1890s farmhouse. The outdoors bath is perfectly positioned to watch the Oruaiti River wind by.

From $220 per night; riversideescapes.co.nz

Manutuke Eco Retreat, Gisborne

Head under canvas for a seriously glamorous camping experience, at the Manutuke Eco Retreat. Sat on the edge of a wetland lake, a big draw for the tented retreat is its retro, clawfoot bath. Sat watching the end of the jetty, you’ll be able to have a good soak and look out for any boats approaching.

From $280 per night; canopycamping.co.nz/manutuke-eco-retreat

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