Rotorua Guided Walks
A small group guided walk on the unique history of the Rotorua spa.
Join us on one of our small group tours in and around Government Gardens in the centre of Rotorua and learn about the unique story of New Zealand's only Government-run spa town.
Māori had known about the special qualities of these waters for centuries, but in the second half of the 19th century Pākehā (non-Māori) started to come from around the country to sit in hot pools and springs in Sulphur Bay for the benefit of their health. This is where we start our walk where we will bring to life the risks involved in this practice at that time. We will then continue around the lakefront and walk through the Government Gardens to learn about the construction of various bath houses over 100 years or so with the aim of being the South Seas version of a European-style spa.
It was a generous gift of land from Ngati Whakaue to the Government that allowed Rotorua to be developed as a spa town. Using historic photographs our guides will bring to life the risks and unusual treatments undertaken by patients keen to ‘take the cure’ in Rotorua. At the end of our walk you will have the option of continuing to the new luxury Wai Ariki Hot Springs & Spa on the lakefront where is a cafe.
With the Rotorua Museum closed this is a great way for history buffs to learn about this unique and amazing city! On our walk you will also learn about the natural geothermal environment around the lakefront and see the rare bird colony that exists there.
The colourful characters behind the spa story
The geothermal activity and how it works
The scary-looking therapies and treatments given to patients
Endangered birdlife who nest on the Sulphur flats
Beautiful plants and flowers of Government Gardens
The slightly dangerous landscape of the geothermal zone
This walk takes 1.5 hours and is about 1.5km (1 mile) long with 2 toilet stops. The longer walk, to Wai Ariki, adds about another 1 km. Our walk will require moderate fitness and currently is not wheelchair accessible, although a wheelchair accessible variation of the walk is available.
We generally take a maximum of 6 people on any walk and children must be over 10 years. We can accommodate bigger groups if required, please ask.