The story of the Ngawha Springs is fascinating…
Historical accounts tell of Kareariki, an ancestress of the local Maori, who discovered the hot springs in the late 1600s. She tested them and discovered their curative powers particularly those that gave relief to mothers with post-parturition pains.
There is an account describing how a major conflict between two warring tribes took place on the West Coast. After the fight, the two opposing forces came here to these hot springs to recover. Together these foes rested and bathed peacefully together. The springs unique properties soothed more than just the battle weary bodies.
Kareariki’s descendants still remain the kaitiaki (guardians) of this tribal taonga. (treasure) They, along with another kaitiaki named Takauere, a spiritual being, ensure that the pools are here for the benefit of all.
Today, a vast variety of mineral pools – with a variety of temperatures – bubble from the ground into large wooden tubs.
The hot springs arising in this area are slightly acidic and are rich in ammonia, bicarbonate, boron and mercury, which is not typical of other springs in New Zealand. Tests have shown that the pools contain in varying amounts also boric acid, bromide, calcium chloride, caesium, carbon dioxide, magnesium, iodine, fluoride, lithium, sodium, ammonium, rubidium sulphate, silica, potassium and some other.
For Maori, these natural hot springs are a very special place. Waiariki means chiefly waters. All pools have personal names. Amazingly they have different colour and different temperature even being in close proximity of each other. So, while Bulldog has black water and temperature between 41-48 degrees, a small pool located in about 3 meter from it has a white water and cool temperature.
Every one of the 15 pools within the Waiariki complex is an individual spring, each with its own temperature. The difference in colour of each pool is an indication of the variation in mineral composition and individual underground source. The spring waters are presented in their natural state and are not in any way processed.
This active geothermal field is centred around the village of Ngawha Springs and covers an area of around 25 km². It is much smaller than the only other geothermal field in New Zealand, the Taupo Volcanic Zone and its springs reveals the unique minerals content and world famous curative properties.