What to Do in Te Aroha: New Zealand’s Historic Hot Spring Town
Te Aroha is an interesting little town at the foot of the majestic Mt Te Aroha in the Waikato. The town got its name on the map as one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations in the 1890s-1910s before anyone has heard about the hot springs in Rotorua. The heritage of the town still remains intact with preserved Edwardian architecture and you can still relax in the mineral hot springs that brought the town to life! Te Aroha also has plenty for the active traveller, being in the middle of the Hauraki Rail Trail and close to some spectacular walks on Mt Te Aroha and the Waiorongomai Valley. Find out all about them and more in this list of things to do in Te Aroha!
While you’re here, you might also be interested in 11 Things to Do in Matamata (That Doesn’t Involve Hobbits) and 5 Fun Things to Do in Paeroa.
1. Hike Up Mt Te Aroha
A myriad of walking and hiking trails awaits on the slopes of Mt Te Aroha, with something for all abilities. Take it easy on one of the Upper or Lower Walks starting from the Mokena Geyser in the Te Aroha Domain (see below). These 20-minute walks are suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs taking you into some attractive forest. Alternatively, most people like to tackle the Te Aroha Summit Track, ascending through a forest, first to the Wakapipi Lookout then to the summit revealing panoramic views across the Hauraki Plains and even the Central North Island volcanoes on a clear day. The summit climb takes approximately three hours to complete one way.
Location: Most walks begin from the Mokena Geyser in the Te Aroha Domain
2. Cycle on the Hauraki Rail Trail
Te Aroha is at a great position on the 160km cycle trail, the Hauraki Rail Trail. Cycle 34km north to the town of Paeroa and the entrance to the stunning Karangahake Gorge, or cycle 37km south to the town of Matamata, with highlights including Wairere Falls and of course, Hobbiton! E-bikes are available to hire in town, while bikes can also be hired from the Te Aroha Motel. Find out more about the trail highlights in our 6 Hauraki Rail Trail Towns You Can’t Miss.
Location: Te Aroha town centre
3. Check Out the Historic Te Aroha Domain and the Mokena Geyser
This attraction park at the foot of Mt Te Aroha is a must-see, with many photo opportunities such as the Edwardian-style bandstand, the picturesque hot pool ponds and the famous Mokena Geyser. The Mokena Geyser is the world’s only hot soda water geyser artificially made so that the outflow is diverted to the nearby hot pools (see below). Nevertheless, if you are lucky enough to see it erupt then you’re in for a treat!
Location: Te Aroha Domain, Whitaker Street
4. Unwind at the Te Aroha Mineral Spas
Relax in a private spa at the Te Aroha Mineral Spas. The silky mineral waters of Te Aroha have been used for their therapeutic qualities for more than 100 years! Experience it for yourself as you relax in one of the wooden hot tubs where you can adjust your own water temperature. The spa complex also offers spa treatments, such as massages, body wraps and beauty treatments. Check out more hot springs with our list of 10 Damn Relaxing Hot Pools in New Zealand.
Location: Te Aroha Domain off Boundary Street
5. Visit the Te Aroha Museum
As the first holiday resort town to attract tourist with its hot springs, Te Aroha has a colourful history worth exploring at the Te Aroha Museum. The museum itself is located in a bathhouse that opened in 1898. It was the first building in New Zealand to be commissioned especially for tourists, earning a reputation for being “The birthplace of tourism in New Zealand”. Learn more about the town through the museum’s exhibitions and art gallery. Admission is a small fee paid by cash only.
Location: 102 Whitaker Street, Te Aroha Domain
6. Walk in the Waiorongomai Valley
Follow two to five-hour walks along old pack tracks and one of New Zealand’s oldest bush tramways with the original rail still in place within the Waiorongomai Valley. The two-hour Low Level Loop walk has a wealth of historic relics to see in the lower Waiorongomai goldfields with beautiful forest landscapes to enjoy. Alternatively, the five-hour return High Level Pack Track gives you more time to immerse in this stunning environment, seeing a few sites like an old mining camp once known as Quartzville.
Location: Waiorongomai Loop Road, 5km from Te Aroha town centre