The iconic St Faith's Church in Rotorua has closed for safety reasons after a ngawha popped up near its front door.

Bill Scott, who looks after the maintenance of the historic church in the heart of geothermal village Ohinemutu, said steam appeared beneath the concrete path on Easter Sunday and they put a small fence around it to keep people away.

However, by yesterday a small ngawha (boiling and overflowing water) had popped through, prompting a decision to close the church doors to the public.

"It got too dangerous. People could get burnt so we had to close it."


Mr Scott said experts were looking at it and it was deemed the activity was a result of the high level of the neighbouring Lake Rotorua after recent flooding.

"We just have to leave it and wait for it to go down."

Mr Scott said they had to take extreme care because the church, which was registered as an historical place with Heritage New Zealand, was a priceless building.

He said cold water was running on the geyser which had helped cool it down and it had already started to reduce.

St Faith's Church vicar Reverend Tom Poata said he saw it on Sunday but didn't think too much of it.

"The water table is high. Once it goes down it'll come right."

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Mr Poata said it was all part of the fun and games of living and working in the geothermal village.

"It's always been this way down here (Ohinemutu)."