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Te Aroha Mineral Spas

About the new Spa

The development of a new spa is the primary catalyst within the Te Aroha Domain redevelopment plans. The existing Te Aroha Mineral Spas can’t always meet demand and potential customers are being turned away. A larger, more modern facility offering a range of experiences has the ability to draw in more customers than it has historically.

Te Aroha has long been associated with spa tourism / visitation well before Pakeha 'discovered' the healing nature of the waters in the 1800s. The hot springs, located at the base of Mount Te Aroha, are extremely important to local Iwi. It is a tapu site and local Iwi link its mana to the springs. Local Iwi have a long history of using the springs for healing the sick and wounded, and consider the springs to be central to their identity.

In many respects the aim is to learn from Te Aroha's past and focus on the health and wellness end of the market, as well as leisure. Our research indicates there is growing demand for high quality spa and wellness experiences, from both domestic and international tourists. Even with COVID-19 impacting on international travel, we still think there is a good business case for this development.

A lot of background work has already been done, suggesting that this project would have major benefits for the whole district, creating jobs and acting as a catalyst for other developments and business growth.

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Project phases

The spa project has been divided into three phases, and will require Council approval before progressing to the next phase or past critical decision-making points. The work phases and approximate timeframes are -

  • Investigation phase – early 2021 to late 2022
  • Planning phase – late 2022 to mid 2024
  • Construction phase – late 2024 to late 2026
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  • $18.9 million has been allocated in the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan for capital works
  • $1 million has been allocated for professional services from within existing operational budgets

We already know we can operate a spa at a profit (based on the Te Aroha Mineral Spas) and the business case supports this. We plan to continue operating our existing spas until the new facility opens.

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Benefits to the local economy

If you don’t work in the industry you might be wondering why so much importance is placed on tourism in New Zealand. It’s something that can benefit small towns as well as big cities, and supports small endeavours through to world class experiences because travellers want different things.

The real kicker though is the way the tourist dollar circulates in a local economy. Visitor spending is new money that’s injected into an economy, and while you may not work in tourism and benefit directly from it, there’s a good chance you’ll benefit when that dollar gets spent again and again. This is called the multiplier effect.

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Te Aroha's spa history

Mana whenua have been aware of the Te Aroha hot springs and were making use of the waters for hundreds of years before European arrival.

European visitor use of the hot springs began to build after the opening of the Thames Goldfield in 1867, with many residents of the ensuing ‘boomtown’ of Thames travelling up the Waihou River for recreational activities, including regular excursions visiting the hot springs at Te Aroha. The possibility of a 'sanatorium' being developed at Te Aroha was raised as early as the 1870s.

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Project governance and management

The Project Governance Group oversees the project and gives direction to the Project Manager, who is tasked with delivering the project. As a commercial venture, it is important we have people with the governance skills and backgrounds needed to shape a development like this. The Governance Group is made up of six members.

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Mana whenua and the hot springs

Ngāti Rāhiri Tumutumu have occupied Te Aroha since ancient times and held the mana over mountain, hot springs and surrounding whenua. The mountain and hot springs are sacred to the tribe, a taonga.

Māori tradition ascribes the hot springs to the taniwha, Ureia, who left the O-kiroire hot springs to gouge out the channel of the Waihou River. He is said to have taken several gourds of hot water from O-koroire to leave at various points, including O-kauia springs and Te Aroha which lie along the Hauraki fault line.

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Project Timeline


Day spa - phase one start

Early 2021



Day spa - phase one ends

Late 2022