Ngawha Springs

Aotearoa New Zealand is home to some of the most spectacular hot pools in the world, thanks to its unique geothermal activity – attracting both locals and tourists domestically and internationally.

Māori carved figures standing in a circle outside, with rocks and steam from natural hot springs surrounding

Nestled in the heart of Te Tai Tokerau, Northland – only 5 kilometres east of Kaikohe sit the naturally heated, mineral rich waters of Ngawha Springs. These springs have a long history as a restorative and healing place to visit – utilised for centuries by the hapū of Ngāpuhi to alleviate pains and replenish their wairua (spirit).

While a basic facility was initially established to transform these springs in to a commercially viable resource for the region and to safeguard the waters, the last major renovation took place in the 1970’s. The facilities required substantial upgrades to ensure it could continue to safely host visitor’s and uphold the Parahirahi Ngāwhā Waiariki Trust’s (The Trust) kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and wairuatanga (spirituality) of this taonga (treasure).

The Trust received a $1.79 million Provincial Growth Fund grant to redevelop and enhance the hot springs complex. This encompassed renovating the existing pools, expanding walkways, upgrading the office area and changing rooms, and building a new perimeter wall to act as a flood barrier. The funding has enabled the Trust to build a space for a café and a retail store, and to offer health-related services such as mirimiri (massage).

The Provincial Growth Fund

This funding facilitated the redevelopment of the facility, further boosting the region’s tourism market, generating employment, benefitting local businesses, and elevating a significant local landmark. Visitor numbers increased from 3,500 per month to more than 7,000 per month after the springs were renovated. In 2021, Tai Tokerau, Northland was even recognised as one of TIME Magazine’s top 21 travel destinations globally, with Ngawha Springs singled out as a must-see attraction. TIME describes the list as a way to identify unique travel, tourism and hospitality spots.

Northland's Māori tourism ventures hit the big time

Throughout it’s 16-month redevelopment and enhancement phase, the project provided employment opportunities for 70 people. There were no paid employment roles before the upgrade, all were volunteer. When reopening its doors in April 2021, Ngawha Springs began to employ 6 full-time and 3 part-time staff, along with a maintenance contract for services. Maintaining the pools authenticity while ensuring community accessibility remained pivotal during it’s transformation.

Ngawha Springs now offer both a public and private wellness experience. The public springs boasts 16 geothermal pools, while the private springs features 8 geothermal pools – each mineral-rich pool having unique characteristics with different temperatures, colours and minerals.

Ngawha Springs now boasts modern facilities designed to cater to its visitors and deliver a high-quality experience for all. The Springs are operated in a culturally authentic manner, with cultural identity is being recognised, valued, and shared through the telling the stories of the Springs history. Moreover, the Springs offer an affordable, all weather recreational activity in the region for locals and visitors in the region. The upgraded facility not only protects the hot pools themselves but also ensures the the health and safety of the manuhiri (visitors) who enjoy the hot springs.

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