"It's a bloody mess," said a Waiwera local, shaking his head in disgust at the state of the local pools, a source of so many fond memories for thousands of Aucklanders but shut earlier this year.

Read more: Lease cancelled, locks changed at Waiwera Thermal Resort

The much-loved water slide, under white protective cover for the rebuild.
The much-loved water slide, under white protective cover for the rebuild.

Yesterday, landowner Waiwera Properties announced that the lease had been cancelled and locks on the doors changed after "continual tenant default", leaving a grim outlook for the operation which Aucklanders visited for decades.

Wheelchair-bound Michael Schischka, visiting the pools for 56 years and relying on them for pain relief, said: "I am really horrified it's been shut and we allowed an overseas person to dictate what facilities we have in New Zealand."


He was referring to Russian billionaire Mikhail Khimich whose business ran the pools but shut them earlier this year for renovation.

Khimich's company bought the lease interest in 2010 and earlier this year, the pools were closed for a big refurbishment and upgrade. But no workers were on the site today.

Schischka said: "In terms of New Zealanders' interests, this is denying us an opportunity. I come here to address pain, severe back pain. It's really sad, I'm a bit disappointed."

Surya Dev, duty manager at the Sugarloaf Waiwera Beach Bar and Restaurant opposite the pools, hopes people will come to the area this summer. Trade had been "okay" but it was mainly supported by locals, he said.

"We have less business now. We are struggling," Dev said.

Ken Titford, born in Waiwera 85 years ago at a home opposite the pools, said the resort's long-term closure was not good for the area and although he is "not a big pools man", it was taking a toll on the coastal settlement.

"There's only a couple of businesses in the place and it must be pretty quiet for them," Titford said.

Security staff this morning visited the property to let in two staff from an alarm and CCTV monitoring business.


The Herald was also allowed inside to see the once-bustling resort. The bright and cheerful Tip Top sign gleamed in the sun beneath the forest on the hill above, abundant with tui.

A mound of earth from digging a drain near the entrance way.
A mound of earth from digging a drain near the entrance way.

But the scene behind the tall walls is a far cry from how the resort looked when it was operating and filled with families.

The water slide tower is covered in protective white wrap. Pools are drained. The concrete elephants are still perched on their steps as always, but look cast adrift because they have no water below them.

One local called it "a bloody mess", saying a partly-finished construction site served no one's interests and he was aghast at the state the resort was left in.

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Aqua blue paint on the resort's exterior is peeling, weeds in the carpark and growing outside from under fences are knee-high in places, construction materials are piled up and a mound of soil excavated from digging a drain is almost the size of a car.

A builder's measuring tape has been left on a saw horse, pipe and drain work is under way but unfinished, and concrete bags are stacked in piles waiting to be opened and yellow "caution" tape surrounds many parts of the site.

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Potplants and workbenches stand idle and boxes of equipment for a new suspended deck beside the pool are stacked on a picnic table.

Shade coverings have been ripped away from frameworks and a large deck to the waterfront end of the site is only partly finished with no timber boards yet laid. Hazard signs outside warn of loose concrete, heavy machinery, scaffolding and excavation with holes and trenches.

Spouting is disconnected, tables are up-ended and orange safety cones dot the site.

In February this year, it was reported that Waiwera Thermal Resort made all staff redundant ahead of a six-month refurbishment of the facility.

The Waiwera pools, once a source of such great fun and enjoyment for many families, today stood deserted, not one child's delighted cry or a splash to be heard.