Northlanders desperate to warm up with a soak in a hot spring are in luck — one of two thermal pool complexes near Kaikohe is due to re-open next week.
The iconic Te Waiariki hot pools at Ngāwhā Springs are currently closed for a $4.3 million redevelopment, and just across the road the former Ginns Ngāwhā Spa has been closed since the land was bought by Top Energy in 2015 for a geothermal power plant expansion.
Originally the power company said it would keep the hot pools open but that changed with the discovery of asbestos at the site.
That has left Northlanders without hot springs to chase away the winter chill, but now that's about to change.
Ginns Ngāwhā Spa was purchased last year by Parahirahi Ngāwhā Waiariki Trust as part of the power plant consenting process, with Top Energy picking up the tab for the asbestos clean-up.
The trust, which also owns Te Waiariki hot pools, has been working hard to re-open Ginns as a interim option while renovations continue at the other pools.
The complex has been renamed ''The Temp'' — a play on temperature and temporary — and will re-open on Friday, July 31.
Trust chairman Te Tuhi Robust said a blessing and low-key dawn ceremony thanking contractors who had worked on the project would be held in the morning with the doors opening to the public in the afternoon.
The Temp would then open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8.30am-8.30pm. It would also be available for private bookings on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Robust said The Temp would also be used to trial ideas which could later be applied at Te Waiariki Ngāwhā Springs.
Te Waiariki's $4.3m redevelopment includes a new building with changing rooms, a cafe, ticket office, shop and rooms for health practitioners, as well as a flood wall to prevent the destructive floods that have afflicted the pools in the past.
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Robust said the Waiariki rebuild had been affected by the Covid-19 crisis but contractors had managed to make up the lost time. The complex is due to re-open in February.
The redevelopment would not change the rustic, authentic character of the hot pools themselves, Robust said.
Keeping the pools accessible and affordable was a priority for the trust, he added.
The lead contractor in the Waiariki revamp is Kaikohe firm Henwood Builders while council-owned company Far North Holdings is managing the project.
Funding has come from the Provincial Growth Fund ($1.79m), Foundation North ($1.8m), Lotteries ($710,000), Te Puni Kokiri and Northland Inc.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones paid a visit to the Waiariki construction site last week after a PGF announcement relating to a business park at Ngāwhā.
Ngāwhā Springs is about 7km east of Kaikohe, off SH14 at the end of Ngāwhā Springs Rd.