Government Gardens is a beautiful public park situated along the edge of Lake Rotorua and just minutes from the city centre.
Government Gardens is one of Rotorua’s historic landmarks and most popular tourism destinations. You'll want to have your camera on hand for this spot!
Originally known as Paepaekumana, the local Māori iwi (tribe) gifted 50 acres of land to the Crown in the late 1800s “for the benefit of the people of the world”. The land contained a geothermal area with several therapeutic hot pools. Following the ratification of the original gift in 1883, the reserve was vested in the Government of New Zealand in 1898 as an area where the thermal waters could be used and promoted as a health spa similar to those in Europe.
The Tudor-style Bath House was built onsite and opened in 1908, and is noted as the first major investment in the New Zealand tourism industry by the government. It now houses the Rotorua Museum and art gallery. It is currently closed for renovation and earthquake strengthening.
Another historically significant building on this site is Blue Baths. The ornate Mediterranean-style public swimming house was the first of its kind in the world to allow both men and women bathe in the same pool. Rather than medicinal, the purpose of the Blue Baths was to have fun and 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.
A walk through Government Gardens takes you to see ancient bubbling geothermal pools, traditional and modern Māori-inspired art, sculptures, and perfectly manicured grounds for bowls, croquet, petanque and golf (the Motutara course is leased to private operators). You’ll also find a soldiers’ memorial for the servicemen of the local Te Arawa tribe, the Klamath Falls Rose Gardens, Te Runanga Tearooms, a band rotunda and various buildings of historic interest.
Klamath Falls Rose Gardens
The Klamath Falls Rose Gardens are situated on Queens Drive and are named after Klamath Falls in Oregon, USA, which is a sister city to Rotorua. Roses are in bloom from mid-November to June and are at their best during the summer months.
Te Runanga Tea House
Te Runanga (The Meeting House) was built in 1903 as a tea pavilion. It served as a social centre of spa facilities where tourists could relax and drink mineral waters from the local springs.
Next to Te Runanga Tea House is the Band Rotunda built in 1900.