A dilapidated hotel that sits right at the entrance to Rotorua's motel strip has long been the bone of contention for the city's visitor industry. The hotel has not operated for nearly two years and has quickly become one of the city's greatest eyesores. Reporter Kelly Makiha talks to Te Puia about one of its unwanted neighbours and finds out what's happening with the controversial building and piece of land.
A rundown hotel that sits at the entrance to Rotorua is being pulled down, much to the delight of the neighbouring world-famous tourist attraction.
The Silver Oaks Hotel Geyserland on Fenton St, which borders the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, hasn't been operating since 2017 after Rotorua Lakes Council served a Dangerous Building Notice on the building due to subsidence issues.
Since then, the hotel has become dilapidated with graffiti, broken windows and parts of the building falling apart.
Demolition crews are now at the site and half of it has already been pulled down.
Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar said the tourist attraction had spent millions of dollars on its redevelopment and it was a "kick in the guts" to have a building such as that next to it.
He said the hotel was highly visible from the geothermal valley and visitors would comment on the eyesore.
"It has been a frustration in recent times. Since they closed it, it has been increasingly vandalised ... When we are trying to present a world-class experience and you look over and see something like that, it is not great at all.
"I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's not good for our country's reputation to see the state it's got into."
Cossar said the building's owner had been in contact with Te Puia and he appreciated that, but none of the work had been done quick enough for Te Puia's liking.
"People look at it and say 'what the heck is that building doing there?'. It's had vagrants and squatters and the council and police are often called there. For a long time there were also continuous sirens that would go off too which certainly destroyed the natural experience we were trying to give."
Cossar said the "low-rise" part of the hotel had come down now but they were not aware if the "high-rise" or the four-storey part of the hotel would also be demolished straight after.
The land and hotel owner could not be reached for comment, neither could the manager of the demolition crew. However, a worker at the site said the entire hotel was due to be pulled down, including the four-storey building.
A Rotorua Lakes Council spokeswoman confirmed the Dangerous Building Notice still stood for the hotel, but it had not ordered the demolition.
The hotel was officially closed by the council in December 2017.
At the time a spokeswoman said the hotel comprised of two buildings on a site that featured geothermal activity.
"One of the buildings has been closed since late November 2017 when the council served a Dangerous Building Notice after being notified about subsidence occurring beneath the building.
"Following further engineering and geotechnical investigations council has also served a Dangerous Building Notice on the second building, which will require it to also be closed."
The council said at the time the second building was close to the area where subsidence was occurring.
The decision to issue a Dangerous Building Notice was made due to safety risks posed by isolating that part close to the subsidence, as this would close off key safety features including exits required in the event of a fire or some other emergency.
Rotorua police acting area controller Inspector Brendon Keenan said he had been aware of reports of squatters living around the hotel in recent years.