Beauty destination: Rotorua, our own luxury spa heaven

I’ve been wanting to get down to Rotorua for some time now, it seems like the perfect place to spend a few cold, crisp, super sunny winter days, and is blissfully just a few hours’ drive from where I live.
As well as being a destination on every tourist’s “must see” list for what seems like an eternity, the rather special town is home to some of New Zealand’s best spas. The exceptional spa offerings in the vicinity have been officially acknowledged of late too, winning international acclaim at this year’s World Luxury Spa Awards, confirming the city’s reputation as the number one spa destination in the South Pacific.
Rotorua’s geothermal water and mineral-enriched mud have been revered for more than a century and the city offers all manner of delicious spa opportunities – from a simple soak in bush-lined thermal streams through to luxuriously-appointed spa complexes. Traditional Maori massage and indigenous herbs play a special role in local spa culture too, which sounds like just the ticket for a beauty journo like me.
The Wai Ora Day Spa, located on the shores of Lake Rotorua, was named the New Zealand winner across three categories of the 2012 World Luxury Spa Awards and was a finalist in the two remaining categories. Wai Ora means ‘healing waters’ and the surrounding geothermal resources and mud have been used for more than 700 years. The spa has developed a unique ‘New Zealand Cultural Spa Regime’ based on the healing traditions and techniques of Maori. Three very different but equally as special experiences are on offer, including one based on the sulphurous waters and geothermal mud found at Hells Gate - where the spa culture of New Zealand first began – and one on Mokoia Island amid clear natural soda mineral hot springs. Amazing!
Rotorua’s iconic Polynesian Spa also achieved high praise, and was named among the world’s top 10 thermal, medical and natural spas six times in the past decade by Condé Nast Traveller magazine’s European readers – the only spa outside of Europe to achieve such accolades. The old baths of the mid 1900’s have been transformed into the internationally renowned spa that it is today and all reports point to a beautiful experience all round.
I’ve just heard word that the super luxe and really rather fabulous Treetops Lodge & Estate is also set to open a spa onsite, which is music to my ears. It’s one of the country’s most beautiful destinations and I’m guessing that their take on a spa will be a winner on all fronts.
Now, to get planning for long weekend… ASAP.


  1. where is the top photo from that the Polynesian Spa?

  2. I'm not sure Mary, it was sent to me. Either way, it's where I wish I was right now rather than grim old Auckland!

  3. Hi Mary, these pictures are actually of the natural geothermal hot springs at Lake Rotoiti's Manupirua Hot Springs (top) which is accessible by boat or kayak and Kerosene Creek (bottom) which is where a hot spring flows downhill through natural bush. Pure indulgence!

  4. thanks so much for the info Karen and Helene! I love hot thermal waters and partner is working down in Rotovagas next week so hoping for a night away with a hot soak thrown into the bargin.


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