A BOUTIQUE spa complex has been announced as part of a massive upgrade to Rotorua's mountain biking hub at Waipa.
The upgrade, which starts this month with renovations to the carpark, includes a health and well-being complex with timber spas alongside facilities such as bike-hiring services and retail and hospitality services, including a cafe/restaurant/bar.
The plan is to create a hub for adventure and broader tourism in the Waipa Valley.
Rotorua Lakes Council is upgrading the carpark while Red Stag Investments, which owns the land, will develop the facilities through different commercial operations. Red Stag Investments managing director Jason Cordes said they hope to have the spa operational by the end of this year, and have the rest of the facilities running by the end of the coming summer.
"We are obviously excited, it's about permanent facilities not only for locals but for international visitors as well."
The principal with whom Red Stag Investments was co-developing the spa complex did not wish to be named, but in a written statement to the Rotorua Daily Post said: "The boutique spa complex proposed for Waipa Valley will offer a real Kiwi experience, providing secluded bathing in a natural environment."
"The spa will be a spot where friends and families soak, stories are shared, and bodies restored after the day's adventures. A natural complement to the many activities around Rotorua, the spa will be owned and developed by local Kiwis who are passionate and experienced tourism operators."
Mr Cordes said Red Stag was working with the council for even more car parking and were aiming to attract so many tourists it could look into building accommodation.
It proposed a hotel for the site in 2013 and Mr Cordes said the idea for that was still on the table, but it could be a while before it happened.
"Red Stag Investments Ltd and the Red Stag group are excited about the opportunity to support both the community and tourism sectors of Rotorua by establishing quality permanent public infrastructure in conjunction with a new vibrant tourism precinct for mountain biking, adventure tourism and complimentary tourism facilities," he said.
Mountain Bike Rotorua currently has a base at the carpark. Its director Tak Mutu said the development would offer better facilities for everyone.
"We see hundreds of thousands of visitors through the forest each year. It will be really stepping it up to meet a higher level that will cater to everyone."
Council sport and recreation manager Rob Pitkethley said work on the carpark would start this month and it would be sealed around September/October.
"It's about creating a better parking area for the mountain bikers. The carparks will be slightly bigger and wider than normal, so people can have room to sort out their bikes," Mr Pitkethley said.
He said the council was waiting for tenders but the carpark work was estimated to cost between $300,000 and $350,000. While construction is taking place, temporary parking will be available on the space immediately beside the existing carpark, and Mountain Bike Rotorua will relocate to the other side of the main access track to the trails.
The council is also looking to start work on a new BMX track on "the old horse paddock", on the corner of State Highway 5 and Waipa State Mill Rd.
Mr Pitkethley said the council was going through the process of getting consent for the track and a bridge that will go across the stream connecting the area to the rest of the park.
The Rotorua Daily Post went to the carpark yesterday to talk to mountain bikers about the plans.
Rotorua's Nicky Monson said the upgrade and facilities was what was needed, as well as an upmarket backpackers.
She said she also thought it should have stunt park facilities.
Rotorua's Peter Brownbridge also thought the plan was a good idea.
"There's a lot of people who utilise the forest and it will complement the recreational facilities we have here with the walking and biking."
Additional reporting Shauni James