Historic spa town nestled at the base of Mount Te Aroha
The Edwardian spa town is New Zealand’s intact original spa resort nestled at the base of Mount Te Aroha. Edwardian buildings are current homes for the museum, cafes and the popular natural mineral spa. Indulgence is just a day trip from Auckland.
A touch of indulgence, soak in warm natural mineral waters. Your day starts with a restorative mid morning pick up in one of the numerous cafes lining the heritage main street.
Energy levels up, start your walk with an exploration of the Domain moving onto your second late morning stroll, with a selection of town walks ranging from 30 minutes to an hour give you enough time to spend the rest of your day indulging in one of New Zealand’s earliest holiday experiences, a day at the spa.
For other trips and holiday inspiration check out Auckland Road Trips.
You’ve booked your spa and got an hour or so until you are pampered and indulged.
How about a ramble around the town’s Edwardian features to get into the spirit of Te Aroha. You could start your walk with the Lower Domain to view the town’s natural geyser and pick whether to explore the reservoir loop or Tui Domain track.
Lower Domain walk
Beginning at the Mokena Geyser this is a lovely short bush land walk suitable for pushchair/wheelchair access. Pass the No.20 – iron spring and No.21 – magnesia spring and finish at the Te Aroha Leisure Pools.
- Walking time: 20 minutes one way
- Difficulty: Easy
Reservoir Loop walk
Follow the Tui Domain track and detour to the No.22 or ‘honeymoon’ spring where newly married couples would dip their wedding ring into the spring to ensure a long and happy marriage. Continue up around the old town reservoir and return to Domain.
- Walking time: 25 minutes round trip
- Difficulty: Medium
Tui Domain track
Starting at the Mokena Geyser this track takes you through regenerating bush and shallow mountain streams. There is a 5 minute detour to the Tutumangao Falls and lookout over the town before reaching the junction with the Tui Link track and finally emerging onto Tui Road, near the tailings dam.
- Walking time: 1 hour 30 minutes 1 way
- Difficulty: Easy
Howarth memorial wetland loop walk
Lovely, mostly flat walk around established bird sanctuary, following the Waihou River through one section. Perfect for early morning or evening walks. Access from Spur St or via footbridge at end of Lawrence Ave or by boardwalk at Skidmore Reserve on Kenrick Street.
- Walking time: 45 minutes round trip
- Difficulty: Easy
Whakapipi lookout (also known as Bald Spur track)
Starting at the Mokena Geyser, the track zigzags its way through mature pines and pūriri that were planted in the early 1900s. The Whakapipi lookout provides a stunning view of Te Aroha township, the wetlands, river and beyond. Mt Aroha Mountain Track (see below) continues on through a saddle and then steeply up for another 2 hr to the summit of Mount Te Aroha.
- Walking time: 45 minutes one way
- Difficulty: Medium
Have you found the free foot spa in the Domain. It is perhaps the most fun thing to do in Te Aroha is to soak your feet in the original Domain foot baths. Located among the mature trees the foot pool is a quiet surprise in the Domain. At a consistent temperature of approximately 36c the naturally hot soda pool is perfect for soaking the feet. The pool is free. And the geyser is nearby to have a look at.
A hot soda geyser, a rare natural occurrence and Te Aroha is where it all happens, regularly around one hour intervals the geyser erupts. The world’s only hot soda water geyser is artificially created to provide an outflow for the nearby hot pools. The hot soda water rises from a depth of 70 metres providing crystal clear hot water. The geyser’s name recognises the Maori chief, Mokea Te Hau who gifted the Domain to the public.
A must visit Edwardian feature is the Gazebo. The Edwardian delight formerely housing the number.8 cold natural soda drinking fountain. Don’t miss viewing the Mokea Te Hau’s memorial cairn next to the Gazebo. The Gazebo is now a quiet seating area within the Domain. The aesthetic significance reflects attitudes to medicine and the commercial use of natural resources. It is historically significant for its association with the development of Te Aroha as a spa resort, the popularity of ‘taking the waters’, and attitudes to health and medicine in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century New Zealand.
“ As a functioning spring in a public park … to be the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian spa in New Zealand.” The significance of this landscape has been recognised by the NZHPT/Pouhere Taonga in its registration of the Domain as a Historic Area (#7012).Search the List | Gazebo over No 15 Spring.
While in the Domain check out the Edwardian bandstand, a great photo moment with the surrounding mature trees. Do not miss No. 7 Bath House located in the vicinity of Cottage Cafe.
Highlight – spa
Te Aroha Mineral Spas have private spa which are booked in half hour duration slots. The silky smooth soda waters have been used for their therapeutic qualities for more than 100 years. Part of the ambiance is the nineteenth century style wooden hot tubs where you can adjust your own water temperature. The spa complex also offers spa treatments, such as massages, body wraps and beauty treatments. Every private room has its own ensuite, changing area and ceiling skylight. After each use, the room and spa are cleaned and the water is refreshed. Each spa has both hot and cold taps allowing you to adjust the temperature to suit your needs.
Qualified spa therapists offer a range of luxurious, pampering massage and beauty treatments that will ensure you leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Treatments are available:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 10.30am to 6.00pm Thursday and Saturday 10.30am to 8pm Sunday and Public Holidays 10.30am to 6.30pm Bookings are essential.
Te Aroha Mineral Spa is open every day except Christmas Day.
Opening Hours: 10.30am-9pm Monday to Thursday; 10.30am-10pm Friday to Sunday and public holidays.
For spa enthusiastic don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge your senses with number 2 Bath House. The exquisite Edwardian bath house has been beautifully restored. While there is an infinity wall and glass viewing panels the bath house has retained its original charm. The temperature of the naturally hot soda water is 70°C and is cooled to 40°C for comfort. Come and experience ‘taking the waters’ how it was 100 years ago.
Open: Weekdays: 7am – 5:45pm; Weekends and Public Holidays: 10am – 6:45pm
Please note that pools are cleared 15 minutes before closing.
Heritage Te Aroha
The Cadman Bath House is now the Te Aroha Museum. The building was a first for New Zealand tourism as it was specifically designed to attract visitors to the spa town. The birthplace of New Zealand tourism is an accolade Te Aroha embraces.
Bowling greens and croquet club
Te Aroha i visitor centre is housed in the former Domain office, former Domain Office reflects important and representative aspects of New Zealand history, including civic administration, the role of Domain Boards, and the development of health care and early tourism in New Zealand.
Currently operating as a visitor’s centre, it has high potential for public education.
The Cottage Cafe is occupying the old Gardener’s Cottage. The house is a good example of a “T” plan Edwardian Villa. The interesting feature of this cottage is that it has no projecting bay beneath the gable representing a local variation. An exterior room was built on the verandah in 1928/9. This was restored by DOC in 1989 and the verandah rebuilt. The cottage exemplifies the growth and development of the Domain with regard to the need for a resident Head Gardener and its control by the (then) Department of Tourist and Health Resorts.
You planned a day trip and Te Aroha wove its magic. And now you need a place to stay.
Te Aroha Holiday Park & Hot Pools
Te Aroha deserves more than a day trip. You are indulging in a weekend away with several booked spa treatments. A great idea and stay at Te Aroha Holiday Park and Hot Pools. The holiday park has its own private hot pool. The perfect antidote as you have alternative indulgence on tap at your accommodation. Te Aroha Holiday Park is a unique country camping experience in one of New Zealand’s few remaining traditional holiday parks in the Waikato. Enjoy soaking in our mineral hot pool (open during the evening), Alternatively enjoy a BBQ on the private deck of your own self-contained cottage. There is an adventure playground amongst oak trees. Warm cosy cabins to spend a wintery night something to think about when you need a break.
Travel pack information
- Te Aroha was officially born with the opening of the Waiorongomai Goldfields in 1880. The hot springs along with the surrounding land was gifted to the Crown as a reserve by local Maori Chief Te Mokena Hau in 1882. When the curative values of the spring water was discovered by Europeans a bore was sunk, resulting in a geyser of hot soda water… the only one of its kind in the world. It was named the Mokena Geyser, in honour of the Maori chief. The 1880s saw the Domain planted out and promoted in the fashion of the European Spas. Te Aroha became the first geothermal spa town to annually receive thousands of visitors, many traveling by boat and train to ‘take the waters’. As its popularity continued the area of the Domain was increased by the purchase of adjoining land from the Morgan and Lipsey families. This expanded the recreation resource to include a network of walking tracks and indigenous forest.
The Te Aroha Hot Springs Domain is unique in that it is the only complete Edwardian Domain in New Zealand. Our natural mineral water is the reason for the revival of interest in spa treatments; part of a global trend.
The word ‘Spa’ – Salus per Aquam or healing through waters, refers to the therapeutic benefits of mineral water bathing and drinking. Modernised to resort standard, the Te Aroha Mineral Spa baths retain their charm of yesteryear.
History source Te Aroha.
Read more about places to visit in Auckland in our Auckland travel guide.
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