Christmas at Prince’s Gate Hotel

I celebrated a Christmas Day with a buffet lunch with my parents at the historic Prince’s Gate Hotel in Rotorua.


The hotel was originally built in Waihi in 1897. In the 1900s the booming gold-mining town of Waihi was the third largest town in New Zealand.

The hotel played a significant part in early New Zealand. It housed extra police officers deployed to the area during the Waihi gold miners’ strike and was used as hospital following an influenza epidemic.

In 1917, it was decided to relocate the building to Rotorua. The hotel was dismantled and transported by horse-drawn wagon to Waihi Railway Station where it was taken by rail to Rotorua.

It was reassembled on the corner of Arawa and Hinemaru Streets directly opposite the gates to the Government Gardens. The Prince’s Gate, also known as the Prince’s Arch and Gateway, was built for the 1901 Royal Visit by the Duke and Duchess of York.

The hotel reopened in 1921 as the Prince’s Gate Hotel.



The lunch was $95 a head and included a carvery / hot station with manuka smoked champagne ham, turkey breast, roast angus beef sirlon, salmon, steamed and roast vegetables.

On the opposite table there was a cauliflower soup, antipasto platter, penne & tuna salad, Caesar salad, and Greek salad.

The dessert station included pavlova, mini cheesecake, brandy snaps, creme burlee tarts, and Christmas pudding with custard.

Breads and tips were served at the table.




Sulphur Lake Rotorua

Sulphur Lake is located at the southern end of Government Gardens.

Sulphur Lake

‘Anchor Peace’ by Jocelyn Pratt – Sulphur Lake

This artificial lake was created around 1908 to provide a tranquil setting for patients at the nearby Sanatorium Hospital and Bath House.

Over the years the pathways around the lake had become neglected, so in 2013 a project begun to clear the vegetation and establish new pathways. A new footbridge, the Memorial Bridge, was built using recycled materials from the footbridge that use to cross Utuhina Stream. The Memorial Bridge was dedicated at an official opening on 5 August 2014 to start Rotorua’s World War I centennial commemorations.

'Gallipoli' by Logan Okiwi Shipgood - Memorial Bridge

‘Gallipoli’ by Logan Okiwi Shipgood – Memorial Bridge

Currently there are 17 sculptures dotted around the lake as part of the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail. These sculptures were created for Rotorua’s first Sculpture Symposium, which was held from 29 November to 12 December 2014. The artworks are based on the theme ‘The Returning Soldier’, and are on display as part of WWI commemorations.

Sulphur Lake has a close connection in the recuperation and healing process for returned soldiers, who would walk the perimeter of the lake.

Sulphur Lake

Sulphur Lake

The sculptures are for sale. Any sculpture that is sold will be replaced with a similar piece of work by the artist. The works will stay on view until the next sculpture symposium in late 2016.

As part of the symposium judges selected Anna Korver’s piece ‘The White Mouse’, depicting New Zealand war heroine Nancy Wake, to win a $10,000 prize and be part of the Council’s permanent art collection. The Council also purchased a second piece ‘The Ghost Soldier’ by Rory McDougall. The Rotorua Energy Trust has purchased a further two pieces for the city ‘Forever Remembered’ by Paul Bottomley and ‘Tank Tramp’ by Jamie Pickernell. These four pieces will remain on display on the sculpture trail.

The sculpture symposium will be held every two years.

'The Ghost Soldier' by Rory McDougall

‘The Ghost Soldier’ by Rory McDougall

Tank Trap by Jamie Pickernell

Tank Trap by Jamie Pickernell

'See You Soon' by Rakei Kingi

‘See You Soon’ by Rakei Kingi


Government Gardens Rotorua

Government Gardens is a public park located in central Rotorua.

Government Gardens

Government Gardens

In 1880 Ngāti Whakaue gifted this land to the Crown for the ‘benefit of all people of the world’. Originally the land was a swampy scrub-covered geothermal wilderness. The scrub was cleared and formal gardens were planted, including large imported trees, such as Japanese firs and California weeping redwoods.

Government Gardens is registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a nationally significant historic area. There is a heritage trail with 28 points of interest with information boards. Visitors can follow the numbered boards to explore the history of the park.

Government Gardens Heritage Trail Map

Government Gardens Heritage Trail Map

The main entrance to Government Gardens (off Hinemaru Street) is framed by the Prince’s Arch Gates. The wooden arch gates were first erected at the intersection of Fenton and Hinemoa Streets in 1901 for the Royal Visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwell.

After the royal visit the gates were moved to be the entrance to Government Gardens.

Prince's Arch Gates

Prince’s Arch Gates

Also near the entrance is the Te Rūnanga Tearooms and Band Rotunda. Te Rūnanga was built in 1903 as a tea pavilion where Māori girls in traditional dress would serve guests while they relaxed. The tearooms closed in 1933 following the opening of the Blue Baths tearooms. The building was then used as bowling pavilion until 1991. The tearooms were restored and reopened in 1993, exactly 90 years after its original opening.

The Band Rotunda was built in 1900. During the tourist season brass bands would entertain from the rotunda in the evenings. The rotunda was also used to deliver important speeches. New Zealand’s longest serving Prime Minister Richard Seddon (in office 1893 – 1906) once spoke there for an hour and a half.

Te Rūnanga Tearooms

Te Rūnanga Tearooms

Band Rotunda

Band Rotunda

Between the entrance and the backdrop of the Bath House building, which now houses the Rotorua Museum, is an ornamental pond and landscaped garden. Within in the garden is the Wylie Memorial. This statue unveiled in 1904 commemorates Fred Wylie, who was the son of one the first store keepers in Rotorua and a young soldier who fought in the Boer War. Wylie was killed in action Klipfontein in 26th May 1901.

There are also beautifully maintained lawns for bowls, croquet, and petanque.

Ornamental pond and garden

Ornamental pond and garden

As well as the impressive Bath House building there is also the Blue Baths. This Spanish Mission style building was completed in 1933. The Blue Baths were the first public pools to allow male and female patrons in the same pool. The popular baths closed in 1982 but after a restoration project opened again in 1999. It now hosts a heated pool, museum, and tearooms. The Blue Baths are open daily 10am to 6pm.

Another piece of history is the Rachel Pool or Whangapīpiro. The pool, which has a temperature of 212 degree Fahrenheit, was renamed the Rachel Pool after Madam Rachel, an English cosmetician, who claimed youthful complexions as a result of the silica water softening the skin. The water from this pool was originally piped into the Pavilion Bath, and later to the Bath House. Today the water is piped to the nearby Polynesian Spa. The bathing pools at Polynesian Spa are open 10am to 11pm daily.

Blue Baths

Blue Baths

Rachel Pool

Whangapīpiro – also known as the Rachel Pool

As well as Wylie Memorial there is also a war memorial located on the corner of Queens and Oruawhata Drives. The Arawa Soldiers’ Memorial was erected to remember the sons of the Te Arawa people who died during World War I. The memorial was unveiled in 1927 by the Duke of York (later King George VI).

A Krupps field gun, which was cast in 1898 and used during World War I, sits next to the memorial. It is believed this field gun was captured by the Pioneer Battalion of Māori soliders in France. After being in storage for many years at Te Amorangi Museum it was restored in 1998.

Behind the war memorial there is also a children’s playground and a rose garden.

Te Arawa Soliders' Memorial and Krupp gun

The Arawa Soliders’ Memorial and Krupp gun

Waitūkei Scultpure by Lyonel Grant (2001)

Waitūkei Scultpure by Lyonel Grant (2001)

Government Gardens

Government Gardens