The brand-new, purpose-built development offers a range of unique and relaxing bathing and spa experiences, drawn from the customs and heritage of the area and local iwi (tribe) of Ngāti Whakaue.
Combining the region’s well-known geothermal waters with the centuries-old Ngāti Whakaue culture, healing practices and manaakitanga (hospitality), the iwi built, owned and operated facility is a significant new addition to Rotorua’s established tourism offerings.
“Wai Ariki is the living embodiment of the reason the geothermal city of Rotorua was first established,” says Rania Sears, Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa General Manager.
“Since the 1800s, people have been visiting our city from all over the world to experience the region’s healing geothermal waters.”
Wai Ariki, meaning ‘Chiefly Waters’, features two main spa areas:
Wai Whakaora (Restorative Journey) offers a multi-sensory ‘therapeutic journey’ that features a number of bathing experiences. Among them are warm geothermal bathing pools, an ice cold plunge pool, a hydrotherapy pool, steam room and sauna, thermal mud experience, and herbal pool with indigenous plants including kawakawa and koromiko offering aromatherapy benefits.
Te Āhuru Mōwai (The Sanctuary) is a high end space to experience bathing and a number of specially developed spa treatments with elements of Māori custom. This includes massage and facials using natural actives, essential oils, botanical extracts, traditional plant remedies and the local mineral-rich mud.
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In the evenings the Stargaze Pool (Tirotiro Whetū) is situated so you can look to the stars above and across to Ngāti Whakaue mountain (maunga) of Ngongotahā, a traditional star-gazing site for Ngāti Whakaue.
Each of the heated pools contains natural, geothermally heated water drawn directly from the Rachel Spring, that contains numerous beneficial minerals.
According to Sears, there has been a deep focus on authenticity for the new development.
“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.
“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 Mt Tongariro.”