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Te Aroha Springs Reserve


Te Aroha Domain Te Aroha Domain Te Aroha Domain Te Aroha Domain

Te Aroha Springs Reserve (1881)

Victorian/Edwardian tourism

Colonial New Zealand had a state-sponsored tourist industry. The Scenery Preservation Acts of 1903 and 1906 were inspired as much by an eye for the tourist pound as any desire to save historic or beautiful places. The government hoped that subsidising the ‘All Red Route’ mail liner service to Vancouver would also bring in big-spending visitors.

Te Aroha’s European history took off around 1880 with the discovery of gold. Hotels sprang up, served by a coach link to Hamilton. In 1884 the Te Aroha Hot Springs Domain Board was formed and three bathhouses were operating; there were seven by 1886, the year the railway came through the town. Between 1885 and 1902 all but two of the early bathhouses were enlarged or replaced. For a while Te Aroha drew more visitors than either Rotorua or Hanmer Springs. That changed after the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts took over in 1903, for it favoured Rotorua. The government held onto Te Aroha until 1978, by which time many of the facilities had been closed.

Te Aroha Springs is New Zealand’s most authentic Victorian/Edwardian spa resort. The many buildings and objects include the Cadman Bath House (1898, now the local museum) and rotunda (1898), tea kiosk (1908), gardener’s cottage (1907), office block (1894), No. 2 bathhouse (1885) and the No. 7 or ‘Maori bath house’ (1885, enlarged 1892), along with more recent structures. Do take the century-old track up to the top of Bald Spur.

Further information

This site is item number 59 on the History of New Zealand in 100 Places list.

On the ground

The domain is well interpreted. The former Cadman Bath House houses the Te Aroha & District Museum and there is a visitor centre in the DOC cottage.



  • Margaret McClure, The wonder country: making New Zealand tourism, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2004
  • Ian Rockel, Taking the waters, GP Books, Wellington, 1986

Text: Gavin McLean, 2013

Main image: khasan (Flickr)

Aerial image: Kevin Jones

Historic images:

Alexander Turnbull Library
References: 1/2-061591-F, 1/2-171768-G and 1/2-006941-G (photographed by W T Wilson)
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any reuse of their images.

How to cite this page

Te Aroha Springs Reserve, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated