• Rotorua’s Geothermal History

Rotorua is part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, a geothermal field extending from White Island off the Bay of Plenty Coast to Mt Ruapehu far to the south.

Geothermal features include volcanic crater lakes, spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools, hissing fumaroles, colourful sinter terraces, hot waters and much more which are sure to impress

Rotorua’s volcanic activity has drawn visitors to the geothermal wonders since the 1800s.

Maori geothermal legends

There are few places in the world where geothermal phenomena of such intensity, is as extensive and easily seen as here in Rotorua. To those in the past who had none of the science or technology that we have today, this bounty of nature must indeed have been regarded as a gift from the gods.

  • The earliest legends speak of a man named Ngatoroirangi, a tohunga (priest) who guided the Te Arawa canoe to this country. Exploring the area, he climbed one of the central North Island’s mountains Tongariro.  At its snowy peak, he nearly died – so he called on his sisters in far off in Hawaiki who sent the fire demons to go to their brother’s aid. In every place the fire demons surfaced on the way, they left a steaming, bubbling trail of thermal activity in their wake, till they reached and revived him. He named the mountain Tongariro to commemorate the cold south wind that almost killed him. And so it is that volcanic and thermal activity came to the region and Rotorua’s Te Arawa tribe became its guardian. Source: Te Whakarewarewa by Don Stafford. To experience this Rotorua legend, go see the Rotorua stories movie at the Rotorua Museum.
  • The Maori people consider themselves guardians of the geothermal resource. Every one of the hot mineral springs that bubble up in Rotorua is known and named by Maori.
  • The waters are known as Waiariki, itself a term of high honour. It means water of the gods although it is interpreted as hot spring. These waters are also regarded by Maori as treasures – taonga.

To find out more visit this geothermal history information at RotoruaNZ.com

A Rich Geothermal History at Polynesian Spa

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.


Community Page

Polynesian Spa works with a range of community groups and organisations around Rotorua and New Zealand. Check out what we have been up to lately.

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Replenish yourself inside and out at the Polynesian Spa Café, with delicious food and juices, smoothies, herbal tea, coffee and more.

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