Geothermal tourism has a long history in New Zealand. Te Arawa iwi oral histories recount early visitors near Rotorua and Taupo districts and missionaries captured interest in geothermal attractions with their vivid descriptions, drawings and paintings. The early tourists came to bath in thermal waters and to see the geysers, springs, mud pools, and the once visible giant Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana (destroyed in 1886 by the eruption of Mount Tarawera). International tourism followed and by the 1860s, the people of Tuhourangi (local iwi) were fully engaged in tourism.
Interest in natural features and in the healing qualities of geothermal fluid continued to grow and today it contributes significantly to the local and national economy, including growing investment and leadership by Māori. Experiences include visiting natural features, and learning about Maori cultural links and traditional uses of the resource. People enjoy bathing in natural geothermal waters throughout New Zealand, from Ngawha Springs in Northland to Westland in the south and ‘wellness’ tourism is also an area of potential growth, provided the resource is managed sustainably.