Need 2 Know: Re­de­vel­op­ment to hot springs spot on walk­ing track

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

Pop­u­lar hot wa­ter swim­ming spot gets an over­haul with the re­de­vel­op­ment of Otu­muheke Stream in Spa Ther­mal Park, Taupo.

Work has be­gun on the ex­cit­ing re­de­vel­op­ment of Otu­muheke Stream area in Spa Ther­mal Park, Taupo.

This beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral hot spot on the banks of the Waikato River is pop­u­lar with lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike and has been in sig­nif­i­cant need of up­grade due to en­vi­ron­men­tal and safety con­cerns from ris­ing visitor num­bers over the years.

Vis­it­ing Otu­muheke Stream has long been recog­nised as a must-do ac­tiv­ity in Taupo, with warm geo­ther­mal waters flow­ing into the up­per reaches of the Waikato River where bathers can re­lax un­der a wa­ter­fall or soak in the shal­low rock pools.

The area is recog­nised as cul­tur­ally sig­nif­i­cant to lo­cal iwi as an his­toric bathing and meet­ing place, and the re­de­vel­op­ment en­ables the on­go­ing pro­tec­tion of this taonga by com­bat­ing ero­sion, pol­lu­tion and threats to the unique nat­u­ral bio­di­ver­sity of the area.

The project is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween key part­ners; in­clud­ing Pa­tuiwi Re­serve Trust, Tūwhare­toa Maori Trust Board, Taupō Dis­trict Coun­cil and the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion. Taupō Po­lice and Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil have also been in­volved.

The plans for Otu­muheke Stream are sig­nif­i­cant, en­hanc­ing the over­all visitor ex­pe­ri­ence and safety of bathers while pro­tect­ing the nat­u­ral and cul­tural in­tegrity of the area.

The re­de­vel­op­ment in­cludes new toi­let fa­cil­i­ties with chang­ing rooms and lock­ers, river edge loung­ing plat­forms, hot spring seat­ing area, ex­ten­sive land­scap­ing and a new walk­ing bridge to al­low more space for bathers. A cof­fee kiosk will also be op­er­at­ing on­site and sto­ry­boards placed along the walk­ing track to ex­plain the his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of the area.

The ben­e­fits of th­ese de­vel­op­ments will be felt widely, with mem­bers of the lo­cal com­mu­nity and vis­i­tors to our re­gion be­ing able to en­joy the en­hanced fa­cil­i­ties of Otu­muheke Stream.

Des­ti­na­tion Great Lake Taupo gen­eral man­ager, Damian Coutts is thrilled to see the in­vest­ment in this tourist hot spot go­ing ahead: “In the peak tourist sea­son this site can see up to 1800 vis­i­tors per day so it is fan­tas­tic to of­fer a safer and sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanced ex­pe­ri­ence for those vis­i­tors.”

“This devel­op­ment rounds out a unique geo­ther­mal of­fer­ing that our re­gion is renowned for with ex­cel­lent com­mer­cial ther­mal hot pools and geo­ther­mal walk­ways on of­fer.”

“It is a stun­ning lo­ca­tion, right on the banks of the crys­tal-clear waters of the Waikato and on the Huka Trail walk­way, so we ex­pect that this up­grade will en­sure this site be­comes an ab­so­lute must-do for vis­i­tors to New Zealand.”

Dur­ing the first stage of con­struc­tion, ac­cess to the hot stream may be pro­hib­ited for health and safety rea­sons though dis­rup­tion will be kept to a min­i­mum where pos­si­ble. There will be sig­nage on­site to ad­vise vis­i­tors of any clo­sures and in­for­ma­tion about al­ter­na­tive routes.

The re­de­vel­op­ment is ex­pected to take around nine weeks, with the re­open­ing mid-2018.

Above: An artist’s im­pres­sion of the re­de­vel­op­ment at Taupo.

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