Waiwera Thermal Resort and Spa has closed and its future is uncertain after the land owners stepped in and changed the locks this week.
There has been a thermal spa in Waiwera for 170 years.
Auckland company Waiwera Properties leased the site to the Waiwera Group, whose sole director is Russian billionaire Mikhail Khimich, in 2010 and since then Waiwera Group has owned and run the resort and bottling plant businesses.
Waiwera Properties cancelled the lease this week, citing ongoing non-payment of rent.
The resort has been closed since February for refurbishment and was expected to reopen soon. All staff were also laid off in February.
In a statement, Waiwera Properties says that a history of defaults on rent culminated in the lease being cancelled, and the locks changed on the doors of the thermal resort.
Some refurbishment has been completed but Waiwera Properties project director Evan Vertue says there has been no activity on the premises since early September.
He says the company regrets the need to cancel the lease.
“It’s a pity that it has come to this,” Mr Vertue says. “We have reluctantly re-entered the premises due to continual tenant default and consider this option a last resort. We don’t welcome making this move, but we have no other option. Waiwera Thermal Resort has been enjoyed by many families over the years, and it is a popular destination for locals and visitors to our country. We would far rather see it thriving and enjoyed by all.”
Mr Vertue says the company needs to let the dust settle before making any decisions on the future of the site. He says it would make sense to continue with a thermal spa in some form, given the qualities of the hot water, and there are no plans for residential development.
Attempts to speak to a Waiwera Group representative were unsuccessful.