The History of Taupo DeBretts

The History of Taupo DeBretts

Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs early 20th century.

For more than a century, people have been flocking to the natural mineral waters that now makes up Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs. These healing waters are sourced from the picturesque Onekeneke valley, a favourite bathing spot among early Maori inhabitants. Since the Armed Constabulary moved into the Taupo area in the mid nineteenth century, this bathing spot has been extensively upgraded to become a favorite spot for tens of thousands of visitors.

The first European to discover this water was Sir William Fox. In a letter to the then Premier, Sir Julius Vogel, 1874, he wrote

... At the distance of a mile from the Constabulary Post and Township, along the eastern shore of the lake, a warm stream, a yard or two wide across the road and meanders into the lake. Following it inland by a Maori track, a narrow gorge is reached in which the small stream expands into two considerable pools, varying in depth from a few inches to several feet. They are both of considerable temperature and a favorite bathing spot of the local natives

However, Fox deemed the task of making the pools into a "place of general resort" too demanding, and did not further his interest.

The Black Terrace, located at the head of the valley and originally formed during the Taupo eruption of AD 186, was later destroyed in the 1931 Napier earthquake. Ross improved the pools to such an extent, that the 1894 Wills' guide book described the hot lake (serpentine lake) created by the two pools, as

the finest natural swimming bath in the thermal district.

At the foot of the lake was a spout bath, and at its head the iron bath. These bath houses still remain, however access is difficult due to the growth of vegetation. The original water source of these bathhouses, the black terrace springs have been destroyed by development further up the valley.

The present pool complex was built in 1958 by Sir Henery O'Callagher. A man of incredible insight and vision, who installed very modern concepts in a not so modern time.

Present owners, Barry & Carol Kirkland, purchased the thermal pool complex in 1987 in a condemned and deteriorated state. Immediately a massive redevelopment and modernisation programme began. The pools were closed to the public for a period of three months where extensive upgrading and preparation took place to prepare the pools to an acceptable hygiene and bathing standard.

Thereafter Barry and Carol turned their attention to the dilapidated Motel units and neglected camping grounds – working tirelessly for almost 6 months before guests could come and stay

Barry remembers towing around a caravan in the dirt to mark out the existing caravan and motorhome sites, and planting the thousands of shrubs that now make up the screening hedges.

Today Taupo DeBretts encompasses a full holiday resort featuring 42 stand alone accommodations as well as tent and RV campsites, childrens playground & big air bounce pad, an outdoor pool facility with 2 large natural mineral pools, fresh water pools, spa pool and a hot water playground with a tipping bucket and three heated hydro-slides for the kids. 12 private indoor pools provide bathing in private, set within the lush bush landscape. These private pools are all natural thermal mineral water at varying temperatures. There is even a full Day Spa with 5 treatment rooms that provides visitors with unique massage, body wraps, scrubs, facials and a range of beauty treatments.