Rotorua's Rainbow Springs to close after 90 years

Source: 1News

Rotorua's Rainbow Springs Nature Park has been closed after 90 years in operation, having struggled to maintain financial viability amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

A kiwi bird (file image).

The tourist attraction has been forced to close its doors as high maintenance costs and an uncertain future meant it was not financially viable, according to Ngāi Tahu Holdings chief operating officer Craig Ellison.

"Rainbow Springs Nature Park, while an iconic and treasured attraction in the local community, has always brought with it substantial operating and maintenance costs which had been under consideration by Ngāi Tahu Tourism for some time," Ellison said in a statement.

"Within this context and coupled with the current restricted and uncertain climate, Rainbow Springs Nature Park cannot be financially viable. The park relied heavily on international manuhiri, and it is not expected tourism levels will be back to their pre-pandemic levels for many more months to come.

"We empathise with the nostalgia that the Rotorua community has with Rainbow Springs, and we are sad that the current restrictions, the high maintenance costs, and ongoing uncertainty mean that things are not sustainable for the future."

The move to close Rainbow Springs comes as New Zealand's borders remain closed to international tourists, around two years since the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The Government has previously said New Zealand's borders won't be open to international travellers until October.

Ellison said the decision was not taken lightly and the wildlife in the park would all be re-homed by September.

He also said Ngāi Tahu Holdings was in "very preliminary discussions" with a collective of Ngāti Whakaue entities on the potential purchase of Rainbow Springs.

While the park will close, the National Kiwi Hatchery located at Rainbow Spring, will remain open.

"The Hatchery is open and will continue to operate at this site for the foreseeable future while we develop plans to move it to the recently re-opened Agrodome site," Ellison said.