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In the late 1800s, the Maori people gifted 50 acres of this land to the crown "for the benefit of the people of the world". The land was a scrub-covered geothermal area with several therapeutic pools. The scrub was cleared and formal gardens planted. Several large trees remain from those early days, including multi-trunked Japanese firs and an unusual Californian weeping redwood.
Realising the opportunity to create a South Pacific spa attraction, in 1908 the New Zealand government opened a large and elaborate bath house, built in the Elizabethan Tudor style of architecture. Today this magnificent building houses a museum and an award-winning exhibition on the days when people came from all over the world to 'take the waters'.
In the early 1930s a second building, the Blue Baths, was constructed in an ornate Mediterranean style. These were among the first baths in the world to allow both males and females in the same pool. Rather than medicinal, the purpose of the Blue Baths was fun - a chance to socialise in the style of Hollywood movie stars. Fully restored to their original glory, the Blue Baths offer you the chance to relax in heated waters in an architecturally stunning setting.