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Tuesday 27 June 2023

Rotorua unveils a unique indigenous wellness experience

Been to Rororua lately?

The New Zealand city has a new tourism attraction with the opening of the luxury Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa.

Located on the shores of Lake Rotorua, the new facility was officially opened by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

Wai Ariki combines the region’s healing geothermal waters with the centuries-old legacy of local iwi (tribe) Ngāti Whakaue culture, healing practices and manaakitanga (hospitality).

Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa general manager Rania Sears says Wai Ariki is not only a unique development for Rotorua, but also reclaims New Zealand’s pre-eminent position on the global wellness stage.

Which might be just a little bit of hype.

“Wai Ariki is the living embodiment of the reason the geothermal city of Rotorua was first established," she says. "Since the 1800s, people have been visiting our city from all over the world to experience the region’s healing geothermal waters.

“We are so proud to deliver an experience that is tightly woven with who we are as Ngāti Whakaue and to be able share our uniqueness with the world in this way.”

Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa has been described as the the most significant luxury spa development in New Zealand for more than 100 years and is also one of only a handful of indigenous-owned operations in the world.

Elements of te ao Māori are infused throughout the development, including through the physical design of the building, its spa and wellness experiences.

“Every element is founded on Ngāti Whakaue principles, practices and stories, reflecting the whakapapa (kinship) we have with the natural environment, from the heavens, to the water and the earth," Sears says.

“These have come to define us through time. In particular, the hot and cold experiences – while delivering therapeutic benefits – draw on the story of our ancestor, Ngātoroirangi, who called on life-saving geothermal heat when he was close to perishing on the cold and ice of Mount Tongariro.”

The site - managed by Belgravia Leisure - has two main spa areas: Wai Whakaora (restorative journey) and Te Ahuru Mōwai|the Sanctuary - a premium space for bathing and spa treatments. There is also a café and gift shop.

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