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Polynesian Spa has been an icon of the Rotorua tourism industry since it was established in 1972. The world-leading natural hot mineral bathing and spa treatment facility was built on the site of historic bath houses for which the city first became world famous in the 1800s.

Starting out with 13 pools, Polynesian Pools (former name), was immediately a famous destination, drawing people from all over the world. As the new millennium approached, demand for a more deluxe product experience increased which led to the introduction of our relaxation therapies and the rebranding to today’s Polynesian Spa in 1996

The Spa continues to evolve and focus on health and wellness, introducing passive and active bathing experiences for increased immunity and greater energy levels.

At Polynesian Spa, elements of early buildings and baths have been carefully retained and the site is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Father Mahoney

Tuesday, February 12, 1878

Father Mahoney, a Catholic Priest from Tauranga disabled with arthritis, was carried to Rotorua to bathe in the small waiariki (spring) known by the Te Arawa people as Te Pupunitanga. After soaking in its acidic waters he was able to walk back to Tauranga, and the pool became known as the “Priest’s Bath”.

The Pavilion Bath

Wednesday, October 18, 1882

The Pavilion Bath, the first building of the new Government township of Rotorua, was built on the site of the Priest’s Bath.

Pavillion Bath fell down

Monday, June 2, 1884

The Pavillion Bath fell down, a portent of maintenance problems in store for other bath houses in the area.

Pavilion Baths rebuilt

Monday, May 23, 1887

The Pavilion Baths were rebuilt by Camille Malfroy

Women’s swimming bath added

Monday, November 30, 1896

Camille Malfroy added a women’s swimming bath to the facility. A second and larger Sanatorium was built in 1891

The Duchess Bath built

Wednesday, January 23, 1901

The Duchess Bath, built to celebrate the visit of the Duchess of York, opened on the site of Polynesian Spa.

Pavilion & Duchess Baths demolished

Sunday, November 9, 1930

Both the Pavilion Bath and the Duchess Baths are demolished.

Ward Baths open on site

Wednesday, September 9, 1931

Ward Baths close

Wednesday, September 29, 1971

Ward Baths close, ending New Zealand Government involvement.

Polynesian Pools Ltd established

Friday, March 31, 1972

Polynesian Pools Ltd, a private New Zealand family-operated company leases the property and opens with one pool. Elements of the Ward Baths remain integrated into the present Polynesian Spa.

New entrance foyer created

Wednesday, June 8, 1983

A new entrance foyer is created and a gift shop and café is added.

Lake Spa opened

Thursday, February 22, 1996

Lake Spa is opened by the Minister of Tourism.

Name Changes

Thursday, May 16, 1996

The name is changed from Polynesian Pools to Polynesian Spa.

Retreat spa therapy wing opens

Friday, December 1, 2000

Lake Spa Retreat spa therapy wing opens.

Old private pools demolished

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Old private pools are demolished and new cascade pools, private pools, adult changing rooms, and group tour entrance are opened by the Minister of Tourism.

Reflexology walk added

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A new reflexology walk is added to the Adult Pools, a cold Plunge Pool and Priest Pool open in the Lake Spa

Lakeside pool added

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A new lakeside 39oC alkaline pool is added to the Adult Pools