At its peak during the 1940s, Rotorua's Bath House was providing 60,000 to 80,000 baths and more than 25,000 massages annually but some of the treatments were far from what we see today.

When visiting the Bath House, men received treatments in the north wing of the building and women in the south.

People stayed in boarding houses and walked across the gardens for their treatments, which were prescribed by the balneologist.

A massage table with body shower in the bathhouse in 1960. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library
A massage table with body shower in the bathhouse in 1960. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library

Converted into modern currency, the cost of an initial consultation with the balneologist (£2.2s in 1913) was more than $450.

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The main benefit of the mineral baths was the soothing effects of heat and moisture giving pain relief.

A man receiving therapeutic treatment at the baths. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library
A man receiving therapeutic treatment at the baths. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library

Mud baths were carried out in the basement of the building, where mud from Whakarewarewa was mixed with water to a consistency from "pea soup" to "thick porridge".

Treatments included a dry massage and electrical treatment worth 7s 6d ($81) for an hour and electric baths for 2s 6d ($27).

A man under goes electric treatment in a slipper bath. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library
A man under goes electric treatment in a slipper bath. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library

High-frequency electric treatments were used for people with high blood pressure, neuralgia and certain skin conditions, the fee for a 20-minute treatment was more than $100 by today's standard.

Men being treated with Greville hot air baths. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library
Men being treated with Greville hot air baths. Photo/Alexander Turnbull Library

Treatments given at the Rotorua bath house

• Undercurrent douche, a water massage said to relieve pain and stiffness

• Pyretic bath, a steam bath used for patients with gout, obesity or arthritis, they were wrapped in towels and placed in a steam cage where the temperature was gradually raised

• Russian bath, described as a "huge dark, hissing room of steam"

• Greville Hot Air Bath, limbs were exposed to an intense dry heat from electric wires, effective for stiff knees and elbows

• Radium emanation water, patients needing treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes or loose teeth drank fresh water that had been exposed to radium bromide

• Plombiere treatment, a colonic irrigation prescribed for "arthritic diseases of intestinal origin"

• The Bergonie Chair, a vibratory chair used as a slimming treatment or to relieve chronic constipation

• Dr Schnee's Electric Four Cell Bath, patients immersed their limbs in bowls of water through which electric current passed, used to increase blood flow to the extremities, treatment with large currents could be painful