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The small and very pretty Thames Valley town of Te Aroha (pop 3000), is nestled snugly at the foot of Mount Te Aroha whose steep, bush-clad slopes tower 1000 metres above it. The town was created in 1888 when gold was discovered on the lower slopes of the mountain. The news spread like wildfire and hundreds of gold-crazed prospectors suddenly descended on the site from all over New Zealand. With a lust for gold in their eyes the prospectors were a wild and unruly bunch, but order was maintained by the town warden George Lipsey, who insisted that no claims could be staked until he said so. He lined them up across the main street and on the firing of a shotgun, they were off! A few fistfights developed but in a short time all had staked their claims without serious injury. However, the mountain never yielded much gold and within a couple of years the interest in prospecting waned.
Te Aroha then discovered gold of a different kind in the form of hot mineral springs which bubbled and gushed out of the ground. In 1880 local Maori Chief Mokena Hou generously gifted the thermal area to the government and until about 1910 it rivalled Rotorua as the most favoured destination for New Zealanders to "take the waters". So highly were the curative powers of its mineral waters regarded a hundred years ago, that visitors came from as far away as Europe to sample them. In 1898 the Government Tourist Bureau established a purpose-built spa facility in the domain, with medical experts and nurses employed to administer mineral water treatment in various forms including spa baths, mud baths, sulphur baths, therapeutic massage and even electric shock therapy.
Today, pride of place in the domain goes to "Mokena" the only soda water geyser in the world and the water that it ejects about every 20 minutes provides the most delightfully soft and luxuriant spa baths imaginable. The town is undergoing something of a resurgence as a heritage tourist destination with the spa pools very busy in the weekends. The venerable old Cadman Bathhouse is fully restored and is the centrepiece of the domain, which is the only original Edwardian spa domain in New Zealand. Most of the other government tourist department buildings have also been carefully restored, including two bath-houses, the tea kiosk, the band rotunda and the manager's residence, now a cafe.
TeAroha i-SITE Visitor Centre
Te Aroha Mineral Pools - A History of Health and Vitality Since 1883
The Te Aroha & Districts Museum - located in the historic Cadman Bath House Building, the centre piece of the Te Aroha Hot Springs Domain, nestled in the foothills of Mt Te Aroha.
28 Wyborn Rd, RD 2, TeAroha 3392, New Zealand.
Ph:(07) 884-8783. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org