Okay, there was no time travelling but I’ve had quite a few memorable experiences involving hot tubs that make it almost qualify as other-worldly.

Like most Singaporeans, I’m used to feeling cool inside buildings and sweaty outdoors. Being in New Zealand though, where it can get pretty cold outside, the warmth of a hot tub was quite welcome! I jumped in a couple during my backpacking months in NZ. Here are 3 tales of my random hot tub experiences in New Zealand:


Naked in Nelson

My hostel in Nelson on South Island, New Zealand had a hot tub outdoors. That’s right, cheap accommodation AND a hot tub. Easily the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in. (Paradiso Backpacker Hostel, you’ll want to make of note of this one!) That’s the hostel and hot tub in the image above.

The weather was a little cool and breezy, but it was sunny out — Nelson is after all the sunniest region of New Zealand. I was having a blast with fellow hostel mates, all squeezed in to make room for as many as we can. When I climbed out and made my way over to my towel, I walked right up to a man naked from the waist down, in the middle of changing his swimwear. I looked away quickly, terribly embarassed.

Him: “Oh. Sorry”

Me: As a reflex, I responded “It’s okay”

Him: “Well, yes it is. Nothing you’ve never seen before”

Now there’s a response I was not expecting! Strange, but I was clearly more embarassed than Nakedman.

It’s a funny (if slightly uncomfortable) incident that speaks volumes about the laidback culture of Kiwis in NZ, versus our more reserved culture here in Singapore. He just took it in stride. They are pretty comfortable with nudity out there. Here, he probably would have kena one sepak for a comment like that, right? Heaven forbid we come across a naked uncle.


Beautiful Upside Down World

My very first hot tub experience was in an adventure lodge in the middle of a beautful nowhere. To save our energy for an early morning hike, three of us girls skipped the evening’s party the night before. We opted for a more relaxing time in the hot tub under the night sky. We swapped stories and girltalk, feeling free and entirely relaxed in the amazing natural setting by a valley in Taihape, New Zealand. No building besides our lodge in sight, the hum of nature, and tall cliffs forming a lush wall of green across the river from us.

Besides great company, even the sky looked different. The stars and wisps of clouds did something funny that night where it looked like we were looking at the globe upside down. Beautiful, blue and upside down.

It was one of the simplest but most beautiful experiences. Calming, worry-free, and in that moment everything feels right in the world. Moments like these are the gold pots of travelling.


Premature Ending

And lastly, the first time I watched Hot Tub Time Machine the movie, was in New Zealand with fellow backpackers in our Auckland hostel common room.

A crowd gathered in the common room, going from strangers to friends in the shared experience of laughing at this ridiculous show. The only problem was, the disc was scratched up and so the movie would stop before it got to end. Nothing quite as fun going 3/4 through a movie and not knowing how it ends!

Best part of the story? Since there were very hardly any other DVDs at the hostel, despite knowing there was no end to this movie, we actually rewatched it. More than once. Sometimes it was for the fun of watching unsuspecting new hostel guests realise the same outrage where the movie stopped, but sometimes it was the best  awful way to stay in and save backpacker dollars.


Of the three, the hot tub experience under the moonlit sky outside River Valley Adventure Lodge in Taihape, New Zealand is easily my favourite.


Feature Image: Paradiso Backpackers Hostel, Nelson, New Zealand