Rotorua has many Buildings, Sites, and Structures of historic interest, although our City has a relatively young history in world terms.
The Bath House (Rotorua Museum)
In the early part of this century New Zealand was famous for Rotorua's Bath House - the New Zealand government's first investment in the fledgling tourism industry.More info
The Bath House, which today houses Rotorua Museum of Art & History Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, was once a spa which offered therapeutic treatments. It is a monument to the New Zealand Government's first major commitment to the tourist industry and is a readily recognised symbol of the city. The turn-of-the-century Government hoped to tempt wealthy northern hemisphere patrons to travel far from home to the "Great South Seas Spa".
Water from nearby thermal springs was piped to private bathrooms and larger Aix-douche massage rooms. There were also a number of deep pools where chronic disorders were treated. The north wing accommodated male patients, while women were treated in the south wing.
Old Post Office
The Old Post Office was opened in 1914 to replace the original 1880's building. It is sited on the southwest corner of Arawa and Fenton Streets and incorporates a memorial town clock erected in honour of Premier Richard Seddon who died in 1906.More info
It was decided to ask the Government to incorporate the clock tower in the plans for the Post Office and this was agreed to. The clock arrived in Rotorua in 1907 from Shropshire but was not installed until 1914 when a Mr J Shiels,, installed it. Mr Shiels maintained the clock for 14 years; some records of its regular maintenance still exist. The clock still functions but its bells have been turned off.
The Old Post Office was built by Snell Brothers of Hamilton and consisted of two floors and a tower with a rough cast cement plaster exterior with decorative timbering. In 1971 the Post Office was forced, because of the growth of its services and functions, to move into a larger purpose designed building in Hinemoa Street.
Council purchased the building in 1990. After a public consultation programme, which attracted many submissions and comments, construction started in 1992 on a project to link the Old Post Office and the former Government Tourist Bureau (another Council acquisition from 1991) with a building complementary to both earlier structures. The Tourism Information Centre opened mid-1993 and has become an attraction in its own right.
Prince's Gate Archway
The Prince's Gate archway, a stylised representation of a Crown, was originally erected in honour of the visit in 1901 of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary).More info
It was built of totara and for the royal visit was decorated with greenery and illuminated with electric lights (electricity having only just become available in Rotorua).
After the visit, the arches were shifted to their present position at the Arawa Street entrance to Government Gardens and have become a feature among the Garden's attractions.
The original Blue Baths were designed by a contractor, Arthur Washington Burroughs; the plain wooden bath building was opened in 1885 by visiting writer George Augustus Sala, after whom Sala Street is named.More info
The Bue Baths were first supplied with hot alkaline mineral water from nearby Oruawhata Cauldron and later from the "Chameleon Spring" after the water from the Oruawhata Spring ceased. This latter was attributed to the low level of Lake Rotorua . The Blue Bath facility had, in addition to the swimming pool, two other attractions - the "Electro-Galvanic Bath " and the " Sulphur Vapour Bath ". The wooden parts of the structure were demolished in 1932 but the concrete bath was retained, filled and used as a summer house for many years.
The complex closed as a swimming facility in 1982, the Minister of Tourism citing as causes the high cost of maintenance, falling patronage and the pending decision of the future control and management of the Government Gardens . Council (which assumed control of the Gardens in 1983 after years of negotiations with Central Government) considered various proposals over the ensuing years from private interests hoping to redevelop the complex for alternative recreation uses.
In a joint venture project with Blue Baths Ltd , a total renovation of the complex was finally completed late 1999, which has seen the reopening of one of the pools, the restoration of the tearooms and development of a courtyard.
Built from kauri around 1900 (exact date unknown), the Landmark, as it has been known for the last 25 years, is one of the few remaining historic homes of Rotorua.More info
The Landmark at 1 Meade Street , was constructed by Charles Kusabs, a saw miller, as a home of a local doctor. In the ensuing years the Landmark has served a number of functions ranging from its first as a family home to being a private hotel, flats, motel, restaurant and finally back to a family home. Steve and Wendy Fraser purchased the property in 2000 and, in conjunction with the Historic Places Trust, set about lovingly restoring the Category II wooden building back to pristine condition.
Still a most attractive building, the Landmark is approximately 260m² and boasts some of the best fittings available at the time of construction including decorative plaster ceilings imported from England and a number of stained glass windows. Perhaps the most strikingly attractive interior feature is the newel post carved from heart rimu. Viewed from the outside, the most noticeable feature is the turret. Ornamental wooden shingles are a focal point of the gables.
Te Runanga Tea House
Built in 1903 as a tea pavilion, Te Runanga (the meeting house) served as a social centre of Spa facilities where tourists and invalids could relax.More info
In 1934 the Rotorua Bowling Club, based in the Government Gardens, began using the building as a clubhouse enclosing the wide verandahs. This use continued until 1992. In 1992 the men's and women's bowling clubs built a joint clubroom in the Gardens and Rotorua District Council, as the controlling authority of the Gardens, decided to demolish the building. However, a public meeting was called to discuss the possible saving of the building and a submission made to Council. After hearing that the building was structurally sound and worthy of preservation, Council agreed to delay demolition for three months so that a detailed investigation could be made.
During that three months, the interim committee, decided to establish a trust broadly for the purposes of fostering cultural and historical awareness and restoration for the Te Runanga project and other future situations. The Rotorua Heritage and Civic Trust co-ordinated the restoration project and the building has now been fully restored to its original condition.
Wohlmann House is situated in the southwest corner of Government Gardens and is named after Dr Arthur Stanley Wohlmann, an English Balneologist who was appointed by the Government as their adviser on balneological matters and superintendent of the Rotorua Sanatorium in 1902.More info
The house was built especially for him and he moved in during 1908. The house was subsequently used as a residence for hospital staff until 1986 when it was made the headquarters of the Rotorua District Community Arts Council and a base for numerous community arts and crafts. The Rotorua District Council has administered and maintained the building since its takeover of the Government Gardens from Government control in 1983.
Te Amorangi Museum
The house was built about 1924 by Horace Balfour Douslin, said to have been a friend of Sir Cecil Rhodes, a former Minister in his Government and a retired Inspector of Police in South Africa.More info
Ko Te Amorangi ki Mua Ko te Hapai O ki Muri
(A very old Maori proverb loosely meaning "Spiritual things first, Secular things second").
AMORANGI: An emblem or symbol carried at the head of a religious procession by the chief priest.
The house is built in the Dutch Colonial style of architecture. The ground floor is constructed of concrete on steel mesh. The in-between floor is of 2" tongue and groove matai. Most of the interior fittings, windows etc were imported from Europe and the UK . The doors and door latches and some of the electrical fittings are still the originals. The original Canadian cedar shingles are still in place under the tiles on the present roof. At a later date (unknown), the property passed to a Major Hannah but no further details of his residency are known.
It was the first house in the area to be connected to the electricity supply and as other houses were built in the street, their power was drawn from this house. Similarly, the water supply was also drawn from here, the supply point being a water run in a spring situated in the paddocks behind the present house on the other side of Robinson Avenue.
In 1953, the property was brought by Arthur Sheward from the Holden family. On the death of his mother, Mrs May Sheward in 1957, Arthur donated more than half of the property to the Diocese of Waiapu for use as a Religious Education and Recreational Centre for the youth of the Diocese as a memorial to his mother. The Museum was established by Mr Sheward in 1952 as a private venture but by 1968 it had so outgrown this state that a Trust Board was established to service its operation.
The main house is still in its original condition, apart from the addition of one room in 1960, but various other buildings have been moved to the 1½ acre site on the banks of the Waingaehe Stream. These buildings include the old Whakarewarewa Post Office, the Reporoa Cash Store and the old Rotorua jail and have been furnished with authentic memorabilia of the day. Te Amorangi Museum is also the base for the Rotorua Model Engineers who hold regular displays for the public.
The Spencer Mausoleum was built by the Reverend F.H Spencer on the Kariri (Galilee) peninsula, Lake Tarawera, the site of the mission station of his father Seymour Mills Spencer.More info
Seymour Spencer was fired with missionary zeal after reading of the work of Samuel Marsden among the Maori and after two years with the Church Missionary Society in London and some time in Taupo, moved to Kariri in 1844. The Spencers spent nine years at Kariri working among the Maori before moving to nearby Te Mu where they continued their work. They retired to Maketu in 1870.
The Mausoleum is a steep-roofed shingled structure with glass and rock walls located in bush off the walking track. Seymour Spencer's youngest son, the Reverend F.H Spencer, who spent five years as a vicar of St Faith's Church, Ohinemutu, arranged for the disinterment of a number of the family both in New Zealand and overseas and brought them to the Mausoleum on Kariri.