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Prime minister of New Zealand attends grand opening of Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
By Megan Whitby 23 Jun 2023
Prime minister Chris Hipkins with the five blessing stones that complete the Wai Whakaora (Restorative Journey) experience Credit: Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
New Zealand’s newest wellness destination Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa has opened on the shores of Lake Rotorua following a grand opening ceremony attended by New Zealand prime minister Chris Hipkins.

Combining the Rotorua region’s healing geothermal waters with the centuries-old legacy of Ngāti Whakaue culture, healing practices and manaakitanga (the concept of care and hospitality), Wai Ariki has been designed to offer an authentic wellness and spa experience for manuhiri (guests).

“Wai Ariki is the living embodiment of the reason the geothermal city of Rotorua was first established,” said David Tapsell, deputy chair of the project’s developer Pukeroa Oruawhata Group (POG).

“Since the 1800s, people have been visiting our city from all over the world to experience the region’s healing geothermal waters. Wai Ariki continues that legacy, reclaiming Rotorua’s title and re-positioning it as an international spa and wellness destination.

“Wai Ariki will be a game changer for our city, economy, tourism sector, community and our people,” he says.

“It's been a challenging journey to get to this point, to say the least, but to have opened our doors today and see our vision, conceived more than 10 years ago, come to fruition, is phenomenal."

Wai Ariki will be managed by Belgravia Leisure, an Australasian spa and wellness provider with more than 30 years of experience in the industry.

The facilities
The 4,453sq m indigenous-owned 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 amidst the newly redeveloped Rotorua lakefront.

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.

Elements of te ao Māori (the Maori worldview) 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, created by Inia Maxwell (of the local Ngāti Whakaue tribe).

POG chair Malcolm Short said there has been a deep focus on authenticity throughout Wai Ariki’s 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.”

Tapsell says the opening of Wai Ariki is just the beginning.

“This is just the start of our vision for a unique health and wellness precinct. Tourism and manaakitanga are part of the fabric of Rotorua, and who we are as Ngāti Whakaue.

“We’ll continue to build upon our strong foundations created with the opening of Wai Ariki, with exciting plans in the pipeline for the former QE Health site, which will be enveloped into the precinct.”


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Hotels incorporating wellness amenities experienced a significant boost in Total Revenue per Available Room (TRevPAR) in 2023, according to the latest Wellness Real Estate Report by RLA Global, produced in partnership with P&L benchmarking firm ... More
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The 2024 G7 Summit is now underway at a destination spa resort in Puglia, Italy, with leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US convening to address some of the world’s ... More
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Minor Hotels CEO Dillip Rajakarier has unveiled plans to introduce an innovative medi-wellness concept to the group's Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas brand, with ambitions to expand the concept to additional resorts in the future. ... More
     
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NEWS
Prime minister of New Zealand attends grand opening of Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
POSTED 23 Jun 2023 . BY Megan Whitby
Prime minister Chris Hipkins with the five blessing stones that complete the Wai Whakaora (Restorative Journey) experience Credit: Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
Prime minister Chris Hipkins with the five blessing stones that complete the Wai Whakaora (Restorative Journey) experience Credit: Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
New Zealand’s newest wellness destination Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa has opened on the shores of Lake Rotorua following a grand opening ceremony attended by New Zealand prime minister Chris Hipkins.

Combining the Rotorua region’s healing geothermal waters with the centuries-old legacy of Ngāti Whakaue culture, healing practices and manaakitanga (the concept of care and hospitality), Wai Ariki has been designed to offer an authentic wellness and spa experience for manuhiri (guests).

“Wai Ariki is the living embodiment of the reason the geothermal city of Rotorua was first established,” said David Tapsell, deputy chair of the project’s developer Pukeroa Oruawhata Group (POG).

“Since the 1800s, people have been visiting our city from all over the world to experience the region’s healing geothermal waters. Wai Ariki continues that legacy, reclaiming Rotorua’s title and re-positioning it as an international spa and wellness destination.

“Wai Ariki will be a game changer for our city, economy, tourism sector, community and our people,” he says.

“It's been a challenging journey to get to this point, to say the least, but to have opened our doors today and see our vision, conceived more than 10 years ago, come to fruition, is phenomenal."

Wai Ariki will be managed by Belgravia Leisure, an Australasian spa and wellness provider with more than 30 years of experience in the industry.

The facilities
The 4,453sq m indigenous-owned 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 amidst the newly redeveloped Rotorua lakefront.

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.

Elements of te ao Māori (the Maori worldview) 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, created by Inia Maxwell (of the local Ngāti Whakaue tribe).

POG chair Malcolm Short said there has been a deep focus on authenticity throughout Wai Ariki’s 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.”

Tapsell says the opening of Wai Ariki is just the beginning.

“This is just the start of our vision for a unique health and wellness precinct. Tourism and manaakitanga are part of the fabric of Rotorua, and who we are as Ngāti Whakaue.

“We’ll continue to build upon our strong foundations created with the opening of Wai Ariki, with exciting plans in the pipeline for the former QE Health site, which will be enveloped into the precinct.”
Elements of te ao Māori are infused throughout the development, including through the physical design of the building, its spa and wellness experiences and the development of its brand Credit: Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
Prime minister Chris Hipkins speaking to the more than 330 mahuhiri who attended the official opening of Wai Ariki Credit: Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
Wai Ariki cultural and guest experience manager, Miri Morrison-Hare (Ngāti Whakaue / Tūhoe / Ngāti Manipoto) leads minister Kiritapu Allan, prime minister Chris Hipkins, and Labour MP Tamati Coffey through the pool concourse Credit: Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
Credit: Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa
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After five years of planning, geotechnical preparation, COVID challenges and construction, Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa in Rotorua – the New Zealand city famous for its geothermal activity – is edging closer to completion.
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The Old Thorns Hotel & Resort, Liphook, United Kingdom
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