In days past, during times of inter-tribal war, Māori people from around the area would go to Wairakei Valley to bathe in the restorative waters and it was understood that it is a place of peace and all conflict would be left behind.
Today, Wairakei Terraces and their soothing hot pools still offer that same feeling of peace and serenity.
Relax in the silky waters
At Wairakei Terraces, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a secret rockpool in a forgotten part of a lush native forest.
The silica-rich springs of Wairakei are a beautiful shade of blue-green and you’ll notice the water feels silky to the touch. Over time, the minerals in the rock permeate the bubbling hot waters, which many people say helps soothe a range of ailments. In fact, the name of the stream that feeds the terraces, Te Kiri o Hinekai, means “food for the skin”.
A family-owned buisness
For Jim and Raewyn Hill, the guardians and owners of this special place, it is a chance for their family and their tribal group Ngāti Tūwharetoa, to learn about their history while practicing the important cultural values of kaitiakitanga (protection of natural resources) and manaakitanga (hospitality). The couple opened the pools in 2002. They had originally only been looking to open a walkway that took people through the geothermal features at Wairakei Tourist Park, site of the Wairakei Resort Taupō and just minutes from the incredible Huka Falls.
Today, you’ll find the whole family working there, from welcoming guests at the front desk to fixing up the facilities to getting stuck into the paperwork in the office.
Beyond bathing, healing the community
As well as relaxing in the warm waters, you can take a walk in the surrounding native forest and experience some of the unique flora and fauna of Aotearoa.
Wairakei also has a carving studio that was started as a community hub to teach traditional Māori carving techniques that have been passed down for generations to locals looking to reconnect with their culture. In this way, Wairakei is helping the healing process in more ways than one.
The fruits of those labours can be seen all around Wairakei Terraces, the carved poles and statues a stunning reminder of the rich cultural heritage of Ngāti Tūwharetoa in Taupō.