The History of the Rotorua Museum

The Rotorua Museum is said to be the most photographed building in New Zealand, but there is more than meets the eye with this beautiful building.

The Rotorua area is a must see destination and has been home to one of the most iconic buildings in New Zealand over the last 100 years. Today it is home to the Rotorua Museum but it has been host to many different tenants during its colorful life time. If the walls could talk the building of the Rotorua Museum would have an endless number of fascinating stories to tell.

In the nineteenth century intrepid tourists travelled the enormous three month journey by ship from Europe to New Zealand to experience the geothermal activity Rotorua had to offer. During this time many visitors claimed that the mineral hot pools in the area had healed and even cured many illnesses they had. The New Zealand Government saw this opportunity and decided to shape Rotorua into an internationally renowned spa destination.

In 1908 the New Zealand government officially opened a very grand and ostentatious spa building known as the “Rotorua Bath House”. This luxurious geothermal spa offered therapeutic treatments such as mineral mud baths and alkaline hot pools to cure all illness from respiratory problems to skin conditions and arthritis.

However, the treatments ceased when international travel was brought to a halt due to World War One which ceased all tourism operations in Rotorua. Shortly after the Rotorua Bath House was decommissioned as an exclusive spa retreat and was instead used as a hospital to rehabilitate returning soldiers.

After the war the building became vacant and fell into disrepair and demolition was even considered. Luckily, in the 1960s local entrepreneurs decided to revive the old bath house into a nightclub called the Tudor Towers. The old building saw many late nights and live bands from all over the world over three decades.

In the 1980’s Tudor Towers closed its doors for the last time to be reopened as the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, now known simply as the Rotorua Museum.

An on-going programme of restoration and development has been undertaken to ensure the Rotorua Museum retains its Bath House beauty and also its place in history as one of New Zealand’s most famous buildings. The Rotorua Museum has recently undergone extensive, multimillion dollar renovations to extend and revive the building to its former glory.

The museum is now filled with much of its own history from its spa days, as well as a world class cultural experience, and many ever-changing exhibitions from nationally and internationally renowned artists.

Rotorua is the tourism hub of New Zealand’s North Island and is home to everything from eco-adventures, spa and wellness and the best in Maori Culture. If you would like to visit the Rotorua Museum along with many of the other great activities in Rotorua visit the Rotorua Super Passes website to plan your unforgettable escape.

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