Rotorua set to become spa capital of southern hemisphere

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Long overshadowed by its reputation as a tourism mecca, Rotorua abounds with commercial development across a hugely diverse range of sectors and industries that the city is less known for. Economic development activity in Rotorua has been steadily increasing over the past 12 months with some sectors experiencing phenomenal growth.

From science and innovation to housing developments and wellness, Rotorua has much to boast about. In fact, the city will soon unveil the largest investment into health and wellness that has been seen for decades.

Developed by Pukeroa Oruawhata Lakefront Holdings the Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa will deliver health and wellness experiences infused with authentic Māori culture.

Rotorua was established with the vision of it being the spa capital of the southern hemisphere. Wai Ariki Hot Springs & Spa will use therapeutic geothermal mineral waters to deliver a world class bathing, spa and wellness experience and establish itself as a place to relax, sustain and heal.

One of the objectives of the Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa is to compliment and support existing visitor economy operations and increase visitation to Rotorua – this is more important to the city now than it ever was as we look to build back post Covid says Pukeroa Director David Tapsell.

“The experience will be one of low volume, high value, where pride and presence of our culture and natural resources is at the forefront creating and maintaining momentum to create a positive city-wide experience for all.”

Next door to the Wai Ariki Hot Springs Spa, will be the new QE Health facility. Having both QE Health, with its focus on Clinical and rehabilitative treatments, and Wai Ariki, with its spa and wellness focus, will establish Rotorua’s position as the centre for excellence in these areas.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the largest housing development in some 20 years is underway in the Pukehangi suburb. Freedom Lifestyle Villages has started the construction of 194 homes overlooking the city. With existing villages in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and further developments underway in Christchurch, Ashburton and Masterton, Rotorua was chosen as an ideal site given its desirable location that provides the lifestyle and activities that residents in their 50s and beyond are searching for.

Freedom Lifestyle Villages managing director Rudy Van Het Wout says they are pleased to be able to help address the housing issues faced by the city. “With Rotorua having suffered from historically low volumes of development, it will free up existing housing stock for those seeking to downsize and move into the village over the next three years of construction.”

Freedom is unique in that its over-50s residents are seeking a more affordable lifestyle, not seeking any form of ongoing care, and will share in future capital gains when they elect to sell.

“This is unlike most lifestyle retirement operators in New Zealand and is in our view, a more equitable and sustainable lifestyle choice. With 20% of the Rotorua population over 60 years of age within the next 10 years and growing, Freedom offers the ideal downsizing solution for those wanting a modern designer home, like-minded neighbours, and to free up their capital to enjoy their lifestyle.”

On the eastern side of Lake Rotorua, a premium new subdivision in a semi-rural suburb is under development and will offer residents “a rare piece of paradise close to everything you love about Rotorua.” Wharenui Rise in Owhata is only minutes from the CBD, lakes, Redwoods Forest, and visitor attractions, and provides a unique adventure playground in a high-growth area of Rotorua.

Te Uru Rākau, the New Zealand Forest Service, recently announced plans to construct a Timber Design Centre. The centre is an initiative between Te Uru Rākau and a consortium comprising Scion, the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, New Zealand Timber Design Society, and BRANZ, that will provide “expert advice, research, information and educational resources for those in building design and construction.” It will play an exciting role in challenging the construction sector to produce healthier and more sustainable buildings.

There is so much more. Recent projects such as the $40m redevelopment of the Rotorua Lakefront, the $33m refurbishment of the Sir Howard Morrison Centre, and other works under development, demonstrate that Rotorua continues to forge ahead through growth and capital investments.

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