The Blue Pools, New Zealand

The Blue Pools New Zealand

The Blue Pools in New Zealand are a spectacular sight to see. In this article, I will explain what exactly this tourist attraction is all about, the easiest way to get there, and lots of other relevant information for visiting!

The Blue Pools, New Zealand

The Blue Pools, on New Zealand’s stunning west coast, are a famous tourist attraction. They have become one of those must see places and after visiting I can see why. The Blue Pools are one of the most beautiful sites to see while visiting New Zealand.

The Blue Pools are part of the Makarora River that runs down from the nearby mountains. The Makarora river is truly beautiful and one of the bluest rivers I have seen in New Zealand. The river gets its color as a result of reflecting light off the clear, and also icy cold, water.

Whether to visit the Blue Pools shouldn’t even be a question on your trip and instead, you should be asking how! In this blog, we tell you just that!

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What are the Blue Pools?

The Blue Pools aren’t actually small pools like I originally expected, but rather a part of the Makarora River that pools in an area where the river is deep. This deep section of the pool is then cut off by a very shallow section of the river which gives the Blue Pools its rather calm pool – perfect for taking a refreshing dip!

Where are the Blue Pools, New Zealand located?

The Blue Pools are located on New Zealand’s South Island between Franz Josef and Wanaka. To reach the Blue Pools from Wanaka, head north on highway 6 for around 73km. It takes around an hour to reach the carpark from Wanaka.

If you are coming from Queenstown (which is very common) then it takes around 2 hours from Queenstown to the Blue Pools Track carpark.

Along Highway 6 there are many signs for the Blue Pools which make it hard to miss! Just off Highway 6, there is a car parking lot with lots of space available for visitors, however, in summer this carpark can get very busy especially from lunchtime onwards.

The Blue Pools are also located on Google maps. 


The blue pools suspension bridge
Just one of the cool suspension bridges at the Blue Pools
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Walking to the Blue Pools

The Blue Pools are not located right on the main highway and you are required to complete a short walk to the Blue Pools. The Blue pools walk is 1.5km each way on a flat, well-maintained and signposted trail. The trail is also shaded the entire way.

On the way to the pools, the path is slightly downhill and crosses a suspension bridge over the Makarora River. The path is not paved but is well maintained and suitable for all ages and abilities. The Blue Pools Walk only takes about 20 minutes each way.

Once you have crossed the first suspension bridge you walk along another short path on the opposite side of the river. Walking along this path you will eventually reach another suspension bridge. Here you can turn left (just before the bridge) and follow a path down to the beach area.

Before heading down to the beach area I recommend walking out onto the suspension bridge. From here you get an amazing view of the area and on a sunny day will likely see the bluest water you have ever seen.

If you cross over this suspension bridge then this path continues on and is the start of the Young  Valley Track track. This trail is approximately 7 km return. More information about the Blue Pools Track can be found here.

showing just how blue the water is at the blue pools in new zealand
Exploring the surrounding cliffs gives you some pretty amazing views! Can you spot Bailey?
The other hikes at the blue pools near Wanaka New Zealand
The other longer hikes at the Blue Pools

Are there any facilities at the Blue Pools?

There are no facilities at the Blue Pools themselves nor at the car park. The main thing to note is that there are no toilets.

Are the Blue Pools free?

Just like many of the visitor attractions in New Zeland, the Blue Pools are free! This is great considering there are many signs along the track and it is when maintained!

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The Blue Pools New Zealand suspension bridge over the water
My favorite suspension bridge!

What are other nearby attractions?

Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls is one of the best nearby attractions. This stunning waterfall is located only 20km north of the Blue Pools. The one really cool thing about this stop along the west coast is that it’s only a 5-minute walk from the highway! If you would like to know more check out our post on Thunder Creek Falls.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier is the first Glacier you will get the chance to see as you head north through New Zealand’s South Island west coast. To see the glacier you can either take a guided tour to the glacier via a scenic helicopter flight or you can simply hike to the viewing platform. A scenic flight and glacier hike will set you back around $450 but is an experience you won’t forget.

The free hike is located just outside the town of Fox Glacier and is reached by a well-maintained path that takes around an hour to complete. For more information on the free glacier hike click here.

Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson is located just outside the town of Fox Glacier and is a must visit. From the visitor, carpark ts a 1.5-hour return hike to the lakes viewpoint. Here you can take in some spectacular views and on a calm day see stunning reflections of the Southern Alps.

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier is the most popular stop on the west coast of New Zealand. The town is really popular for skydiving, scenic flights, glacier hikes and of course the Franz Josef hot pools! To see the glacier you can either do a helicopter flight to the glacier or an unguided or guided hike to the viewing point. The hike to the viewing point is very similar to the one at Fox Glacier but is slightly longer. If you would like more information on the hike, check out our post the Franz Josef Glacier valley walk.

Thunder creek Falls is only 20 km from the Blue Pools, New Zealand
Thunder Creek falls!
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Overall, Highway 6 is a great route between Franz Joseph and Queenstown. It is a gorgeous drive with some cool spots, like the Blue Pools, that are well worth checking out along the way.

If you liked this post then be sure to check out our other posts on New Zealand. If you plan on heading out Queenstown then be sure to check out our Queenstown content as we have so many helpful blogs and hidden secrets from our time living there!


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