Shopping for a spa pool isn’t like shopping for a box of tissues. It’s an investment that you may only do once if done right. Many prospective spa pool owners therefore go into their buying journey blind. It’s all new – the brands, the models, the features, the warranties, the quality of the soak.
Thus, some may find shopping for a spa pool overwhelming.
Unlike other household appliances, there are no industry standards for spa pools in New Zealand. It can be difficult to gain a clear view of which spa is right for you, not least because every shop will tell you that their spas are the best spas. As the longest spa pool retail in New Zealand and with many years of experience watching many spa brands come and go, we’re here to offer a clear and simple brand-by-brand comparison to get your best value for your investment
The best spa pool in New Zealand depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re purely shopping on a low price, you might choose a budget brand such as Alpine. For style you might choose an IKON. For the ultimate soaking and spa pool ownership experience, you might go for a model from Hot Spring.
To that end, an admission: you’re reading this comparison on the Hot Spring website. We are the world’s best-selling brand of spa pool, and have been successfully manufacturing and selling spas in the New Zealand market for over 40 years. We’ll nonetheless be as objective and unbiased as possible, presenting facts and avoiding editorials.
How do the major Kiwi spa brands compare? Read on to find out.
- Manufactured in: California US and Mexico (formerly assembled in Auckland, New Zealand for 30 years.)
- Spa Compentary
- Price range: Premium ($16k-23k)
Hot Spring is the world’s largest spa pool brand and the oldest spa retailer in New Zealand. It is known for offering the most innovative product on the New Zealand market, particularly in the luxurious Highlife range and Limelight ranges. The premium ranges Hot Spot and Freeflow, offer mid-range spas and entry-level spas.)
As a large and premium manufacturer, Hot Spring prides itself on quality and innovation, seen in its unparalleled massage, worry-free water care, energy-saving features and unmatched customer support. These machines are offered by dedicated dealers around NZ, many of whom have been selling them for decades.
Hot Spring spa pools tend to have a higher sticker price than other competitors listed below. But as New Zealand's most energy efficient spa pool – a claim backed up by independent testing – this upfront investment tends to pay off over time as running costs are surprisingly low. These spa pools are built to last, as proven by the fact that Hot Spring is the only brand to guarantee availability of replacement parts for at least 20 years.
Hot Spring pros:
- High quality spa pools from a trusted, proven brand.
- A truly luxurious soak.
- Automated water care means less work and more play.
- +20-year spare part replacement, so Hot Spring customers are never without important spa components.
- New Zealand's most energy efficient spas, with running costs from just $1* per day.
- SilentFlo 5000 continuous circulation technology reduces noise, wear and tear to important spa equipment.
Hot Spring cons:
- A higher upfront investment (though one that pays itself off over time.)
- Higher cost for premium spare parts and proprietary consumables. However, the parts usually have double the life of off the shelf components.
- Manufactured in: Five locations worldwide, predominantly Mexico.
- Price range: Upper end ($15k - $35k)
The original spa pool, Jacuzzi has become a by-word for all hot tubs, particularly in the US. The Jacuzzi brothers originally designed the J-300 hydrotherapy bath way back in 1956, to help one of their young sons who had been diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Jacuzzi remains at the forefront of spa pool technology to this day, holding over 250 patents on various innovations. They sit just below Hot Spring in terms of price point, with a collection that ranges from the entry-level J-200 series to the premium J-500 series.
Jacuzzi is one of the few spa pool manufacturers that still utilises timber support frames, though they don’t appear to have the same rotting issues that have caused other brands to switch materials. Hydrotherapy technology remains a key strength. with Jacuzzi machines offering a similar soaking experience to Hot Spring, but often for a slightly cheaper price.
- An established, premium-quality brand.
- High-end and innovative hydromassage.
- Comprehensive warranties.
- Energy efficiency.
- A significant upfront investment.
- The timber frame represents a possible risk.
- Higher power supply required.
- Basic water purification system.
- Manufactured in: China
- Price range: Mid-range ($8k - $16k)
In terms of units sold, Vortex is the largest spa pool brand in Australasia, despite being a relatively recent entrant in the market. This company, owned by stakeholders in Australia and NZ, set out to design the best spas on the market in terms of dollar-for-dollar. It builds all its machines to suit the unique conditions found in this corner of the world.
Vortex aims to offer the quality and functionality of Hot Spring and Jacuzzi spa pools but at a lower price, which it does to varying degrees of success. Design is a key focus – its trademark IKON spa pool is a stunning machine that is as much a piece of art as it is a tub.
In terms of cost, Vortex sits comfortably in the mid-range. When compared to the premium end of the market, the cost-savings are made at the expense of the hydromassage experience, which is serviceable without being mind-blowing. There’s also a comparative lack of insulation, which means that running costs will be noticeably higher – you may find your initial savings eaten up over time.
- Owned by Jacuzzi.
- Built for general conditions.
- Good spa pools at the right price.
- The IKON is a beautiful spa that has won awards for its design.
- Higher running costs than premium spa pools.
- A middling hydromassage experience.
- Manufactured in: China
- Price range: Mid-range ($6 - $18k)
Having sold quality spa pools to Kiwi customers for over two decades, Galaxy is now one of the more established brands in the New Zealand market. Another company looking to occupy that mid-range sweet spot, these spas are made and sold in China (under the Crystal Island Spa name) and brought into New Zealand by 4 Seasons.
Galaxy is the archetypal mid-range brand. Its focus is on doing the basics well, and offering a good spa, good looking machine at a good price. It’s important to note that there’s a distinct difference between good and great, however, which you’ll notice if you compare the Galaxy ownership experience to that offered by a Hot Spring or Jacuzzi spa pool.
These aren’t the most energy efficient spas, so the lower sticker price can be cancelled out by higher power bills. Galaxy spas also offer a so-so hydromassage experience – like most elements of this brand, it’s good without being great.
- A proven performer with two decades of history selling to NZ.
- A good spa pool at the right price.
- Higher running costs than premium brands.
- These spas are good, but not great.
- Manufactured in: China
- Price range: Entry-level ($5k - $12k)
Luxury doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. That’s the promise of Alpine spas, a brand that entered New Zealand to much fanfare in 2015. Offering the cheapest and most cheerful portable spa pools on the New Zealand market, Alpine has successfully filled a niche that many in the industry didn’t know existed.
Even the cheapest spa pools in the Alpine range are loaded with jets. Alpine spas are similar to Vortex warranties. There are a number of areas in which the cost-savings are evident.
In recent years Alpine has added two complementary and slightly higher-priced brands to its stable – Alpine Elite and Master Spas – in an effort to compete more directly with the likes of Galaxy and Vortex. They aren’t likely to square off against Hot Spring and Jacuzzi any time soon, however.
- The most affordable spas on the NZ market.
- Comfortable, organically contoured seating.
- A basic soaking experience.
- Low energy efficiency and high running costs.
- Timber frame.