Waiwera tourist attraction cuts opening hours to three days.
One of New Zealand's most popular tourist attractions is cutting back its opening hours for a refurbishment as it battles "high losses", sparking fears from staff about imminent job cuts.
The Waiwera Thermal Resort - which is owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Khimic - will operate for just three days a week from this week, with the "closed" sign to be outside from Mondays to Thursdays.
A staff member - who did not want to be named - said workers were told of the move at a staff meeting on Friday and a letter was circulated saying the renovations would not be finished until early December.
The letter - obtained by the Herald on Sunday - said of the slashed hours: "The reason for this decision is based on the upcoming refurbishment and the preparation for it. We are at a critical stage of the refurbishment and require these days for preparation work and for the necessary surveys/contractors etc, to be in the complex.
"In addition to this, we are experiencing high losses and we are unable to sustain the business in this manner."
The letter to staff added it would "honour all our commitments stipulated in the employment agreements" and staff would be "compensated" for the Monday-Thursday shifts that had previously been rostered up until July 2.
It ended stating: "We are aware this is an unsettling time for staff. We appreciate your support during this period."
One staff member said that for the past year the resort - a family favourite for Kiwis and also for overseas visitors - had "gone downhill".
She feared the pending changes - coming ahead of the upcoming school holidays - would impact on up to 40 fulltime employers, as well as "a lot" of casual staff members.
Another staff member said she had decided to leave Waiwera Thermal Resort as she had "had enough".
She feared life guards, cleaners, cafe workers and office staff could lose their jobs.
Avi Jayapuram, the general manager of Waiwera Water denied there would be job cuts.
"Sorry? You are wrong." He said. Call me back in five minutes". Jayapuram, never returned any more calls.
A posting on the resort's Facebook page states the location is set to go under an "exciting refurbishment".
As well as notifying customers about the change in operating hours, it says "we will honour our commitments to any current memberships once we have reponed or refunds will be available to be claimed if that is preferred."
Khimic - an oil mogul who used to be a top executive and part-owner of Russian oil company Naftasib - took full ownership of the Waiwera Thermal Resort in 2011.
He has previously told the Herald that resort was "fundamentally an excellent facility with great potential".
Previous plans mooted for Khimic's holdings in the area included transforming an old camping ground into a five-star lodge with spas, villas and apartments.