Overlooking Lake Rotorua, relax and unwind in the hot mineral pools at Polynesian Spa. Cast your eyes to the hills in the distance and reflect on this tranquil volcanic landscape once not so peaceful. Clouds of steam arise from the lake from springs deep below the water’s surface.
For 130 years people have come to the site to try the geothermal therapeutic waters. Two types of mineral waters feed into the 26 pools at Polynesian Spa. Visitors have found great relief from the Priest Spring for their tired muscles, aches and pains due to the acidity levels of the mineral water. Whereas the alkaline water from the Rachael Spring due to antiseptic action of sodium silicate is very pleasing on the skin. An old local belief is that those who swim in the Rachel Spring water will receive ageless beauty!
At Polynesian Spa, elements of early buildings and baths have been carefully retained: the site is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
- The alkaline pool Whangapipiro (later re-named Rachel Spring) and acidic pool Te Pupunitanga (later called the Priest’s Bath) have been known and used by Maori for generations.
- 1878: Father Mahoney, a Catholic Priest from Tauranga who is disabled with arthritis, soaks in the waters and is ‘cured’- Te Pupunitanga is re-named The Priest Pool.
- 1882: Pavilion Bath, the first bath building in the new Government township of Rotorua is built on site of Priest’s Bath. It falls down two years later.
- 1887: Pavilion Baths are re-built under the supervision of engineer Camille Malfroy and in 1896 a women’s swimming bath is added.
- 1901: Duchess Bath, built nearby, is opened by the Duchess of York.
- 1930: Both the Pavilion Bath and the Duchess Baths are demolished.
- 1931: Ward Baths open on site.
1972: Ward Baths close, ending New Zealand Government involvement. Polynesian Pools Ltd, a private New Zealand family-operated company leases the property and begins developing the site starting with thirteen pools. Click here to read more on Polynesian Spa founder, Neville Lobb's, entrepreneurial journey
- 1983: A new entrance foyer is created and a gift shop and café added.
- 1985: Martin Lobb took over the business from Neville Lobb. To read more about Martin's vision for this world-class facility, click here.
- 1987: Radium & Priest Hot Springs are redesigned and landscaped.
- 1992: The Family Spa is upgraded and the old mineral pool chlorinated. Two new mineral pools and a water-slide are also added.
- 1995: Lake Spa is opened by the Minister of Tourism.
- 1996: The name is changed from Polynesian Pools to Polynesian Spa.
- 2000: Lake Spa Retreat spa therapy wing opens.
- 2003: Radium & Priest Hot Springs close and new Priest Spa pools open.
- 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.
- 2010: Two dual spa therapy rooms have been added. The Spa Essentials Gift Shop is upgraded and the main foyer has been enlarged to allow better visitor flows.
- 2012: Polynesian Spa celebrated its 40th Anniversary.