On the fringes of the Hauraki Plains, the small town of TE AROHA, 21km south of Paeroa, is home to New Zealand’s only intact Edwardian spa. In a quiet way it is a delightful spot, hunkered beneath the imposing bush-clad slopes of the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park. The 954m Mount Te Aroha rears up immediately behind the neat little town centre, providing a reasonably challenging goal for hikers.

Everything of interest – banks, post office, library – is on or close to Whitaker Street, its old-fashioned feel enhanced by an old air-raid siren which sounds daily at 8am, 1pm and 5pm: some people still measure their day by it.

Brief history

The town was founded in 1880 at the furthest navigable extent of the Waihou River. A year later, rich deposits of gold were discovered on Mount Te Aroha, sparking a full-scale gold rush until 1921. Within a few months of settlement, the new townsfolk set out the attractive Hot Springs Domain, 44 acres of gardens and rose beds around a cluster of hot soda springs which, by the 1890s, had become New Zealand’s most popular mineral spa complex. Enclosures were erected for privacy, most rebuilt in grand style during the Edwardian years. The fine suite of original buildings has been restored and integrated with more modern pools fed by the springs and nearby Mokena Geyser.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

How to find the right New Zealand for you

How to find the right New Zealand for you

While it may not loom large on the world map, New Zealand feels incredibly vast and imposing on the ground, especially to those who try to visit the North and S…

23 May 2016 • Eric Grossman insert_drive_file Article
Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

New Zealand’s craggy coastline and beautiful national parks are dotted with wildlife and beg to be explored. The scenery gets more spectacular around every co…

07 Mar 2016 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
Video: the world's friendliest cities

Video: the world's friendliest cities

Which cities are going to welcome you with open arms? Where will the locals be likely to buy you a beer, and who's going to invite you in for tea when it's cold…

10 Oct 2014 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month