Rainbow Springs has opened a new cafe, retail space and ticketing area, marking an exciting milestone in the park's redevelopment.

The 902sq m building opened to the public yesterday, having previously been blessed by local iwi Ngāti Whakaue and named Te Wharau o Te Kohea, meaning the gathering place of Te Kohea, the spring which historically fed into the park.

Since 2015, the Ngāi Tahu Tourism-owned business has been on a journey to reinvigorate the park to improve the experience for manuhiri (visitors).

Ngāi Tahu Tourism chief executive Quinton Hall said last year Rainbow Springs celebrated its 85th birthday and this significant investment would ensure its continued success into the future.

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Opening ceremony for the new entrance building at Rainbow Springs called Te Wharau o Te Kohea. Photo / Supplied
Opening ceremony for the new entrance building at Rainbow Springs called Te Wharau o Te Kohea. Photo / Supplied

Rainbow Springs business manager David Hennigan said in addition to the new entrance building, the park's $7 million project (which also received support from the Tourism Growth Partnership fund) included a revamped Kiwi Burrow experience, interactive play facilities, updates to the Big Splash ride and removal of the existing entrance and cafe buildings.

"Our journey over the past four years has led to us being a true purpose-led organisation, committed to our internal mantra of 'inspiring and empowering conservation through participation'," Hennigan said.

Rainbow Springs has also welcomed new native wildlife, including kōkopu, whio and pateke, and added guided tours and a taonga experience which introduces people to a range of Māori treasures.

On October 1 the team will launch their Sacred Spring and Native Plant Tour.

Rainbow Springs is part of Ngāi Tahu Tourism, one of the leading tourism operators in Aotearoa with 14 businesses. Ngāi Tahu Tourism is a subsidiary of Ngāi Tahu Holdings, which is governed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.