The luxury Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa on the shores of Lake Rotorua, in New Zealand’s North Island, has been officially opened by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, culminating a momentous journey for the city and cementing an iconic identity for the country.
Combining 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 offers an authentic wellness and spa experience for manuhiri (visitors) unlike any other spa in the world.
Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa General Manager, Rania Sears, says Wai Ariki is not only a unique development for Rotorua, but it also reclaims New Zealand’s preeminent position on the global wellness stage.
“Wai Ariki is the living embodiment of the reason the geothermal city of Rotorua was first established. 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 is not only the most significant luxury spa development in Aotearoa New Zealand for more than 100 years, it is also one of only a handful of indigenous-owned operations in the world.
The 4,453 square metre development has surpassed many obstacles since first breaking ground in 2017, including Covid lockdowns, supply issues and a changing economy. The luxury wellness spa now stands majestically amidst the newly redeveloped Rotorua lakefront.
Elements of te ao Māori are infused throughout the development, including through the physical design of the building, its unique spa and wellness experiences and the development of its brand.
Ms Sears says there has been a deep focus on authenticity throughout Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa 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.”
The site 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.
Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa has been developed by Pukeroa Oruawhata Group and will be managed by Belgravia Leisure, an Australasian spa and wellness provider with more than 30 years of experience in the industry.