Going for a soak in the seaside hot pools at New Brighton has almost become a daily relaxation ritual for Christchurch retiree Derek Lowe.
The 84-year-old visited He Puna Taimoana hot pools for the first time shortly after they opened in late May last year and enjoyed the experience so much that he immediately bought a 30-day pass.
A fold-away fence unveiled on the first anniversary of the He Puna Taimoana’s opening is providing pool guests with uninterrupted sea views.
“We have an amazing seaside location and now guests can properly appreciate it thanks to the fold-away fence,’’ says He Puna Taimoana Manager Merryn Skipper.
The fence will only be folded away on days when there is little or no wind.
Twelve months on and he’s one of the hot pools most frequent guests, visiting most weekdays for a relaxing soak and a friendly natter with staff and other guests.
“I find it very relaxing,’’ says Mr Lowe.
On most of his He Puna Taimoana visits Mr Lowe brings a book with him. He has a favourite corner in the hottest pool where he likes to sit and read for 30 to 40 minutes before he goes into the sauna.
After about 10 minutes in the sauna, he cools himself off by jumping in the cold plunge pool before going for a quick swim.
It’s therapeutic for the body, Mr Lowe believes, but the physical benefits that he gains are only part of the reason that he keeps coming back.
Mr Lowe says he has formed new friendships – and rediscovered old ones – through his regular visits to the hot pools.
“I used to live on Banks Peninsula and I’ve met people at the pools who I used to know from there and it’s been lovely to catch-up with them. I’m also meeting new people all the time - you get chatting away and meet all sorts of interesting people.’’
In the year since He Puna Taimoana opened, it has welcomed about 120,000 guests.
He Puna Taiamoana manager Merryn Skipper says that like Mr Lowe, many of the regular guests strike-up friendships with other pool users.
“They often meet each other whilst relaxing in the pools or the sauna and end up socialising outside the facility too,’’ Ms Skipper says.
“We really enjoy seeing strong community connections being forged between our guests because connecting socially is so important for people’s wellness, particularly in the challenging times we’ve been living through because of COVID-19.’’
He Puna Taimoana is open from 10am to 7.30pm, seven days a week, with a late night on Fridays. Bookings are essential.