A Whole New Rotorua Spa Experience
by Martina McAuley
Bubbling mud pool, Rotorua
While I was traveling around New Zealand on my own in 2009, I stopped off for a few days in a place called Rotorua. The town sits on the shores of Lake Rotorua which was formed from the craters of extinct volcanoes. There is still a lot of geothermal activity in the area, resulting in the formation of lots of bubbling mud pools and thermal springs.
I wanted to make the most of my visit here and planned on booking myself a massage and maybe even a dip in the hot pool in one of the spas. Well the experience was certainly memorable!
I booked an Aix Massage at the Queen Elizabeth Spa. Named after the French town of Aix-Les-Bains, this treatment combines massage with jets of warm thermal water for 30 minutes. Just what I needed after hours of walking and exploring! As a first time customer, they ask a lot of questions on the form they give you about your health, one of them being whether you have a cold or influenza. Because I had a cold, the masseur said he couldn't massage me because it would spread the cold everywhere around my body and that is the last thing I wanted! So he suggested a Pyretic Bath (a steam bath), as he said it would steam the cold out of my system. It sounded like a good suggestion.
I came out of the dressing room wrapped in a towel and lay on the ‘bed’ part of the bath. The masseur covered my feet, legs, arms and head in more towels. I was like a mummy encased in warm, fluffy clothing. Basically you lie in a semi-enclosed cabinet, while thermally heated steam opens the pores of the skin, releases tender muscles and calms nerves. The treatment lasts for about 20 minutes. During all of this, we got talking about different things. What I really wanted to do was to have a dip in one of the hot pools.
So during our conversation I asked the masseur if this was possible, even though I didn't have a bathing suit with me? He said, "Sure, you can use the hot pool for 10 minutes, there's nobody in there at the moment". So after a quick shower I hopped into the pool in the nip. It was sooooooo nice! The water was lovely and warm, about 37 to 40 degrees celsius. I thought I had the place to myself because the masseur went out the door and left me to it. But he came back in within 2 minutes and said that he had to supervise. He was right because on the brochure it says that if you’re using the hot pool, you have to be supervised otherwise you need to sign a “release of liability” form.
By this stage though, I had walked over to the other side of the pool and was facing the door. So he came back in and sat down on a stool on the opposite side of the room. There I was, in the nip, in the hot pool and the masseur could see every bump and curve of me, drooping boobies an’ all! I’m not the most prudish of people but I’m not the most modern either. I thought "Feck, this is strange. I've never been naked in a hot pool before, with a guy there talking to me for 10 minutes!" What do you say to each other?! I was nearly going to ask him if he wanted to come and join me in the pool but I didn’t! I'm sure it wasn't the first time he'd seen naked women, being a masseur and it won't be the last, but for me, it was a whole new experience!