Lure of the Trail – Programme 8 – Morere Hot Springs

NZ Department of Tourist & Publicity, 1939

Early photo of the Morere Hot Springs

In the late 1930s the New Zealand Department of Tourist and Publicity produced a series of radio programmes to encourage New Zealanders to holiday within New Zealand rather than travelling overseas.

This series, entitled “Lure of the Trail”, was produced by Radio Features Ltd and aired on the National Commercial Broadcasting Service stations 1ZB (Auckland), 2ZB (Wellington), 3ZB (Christchurch) and 4ZB (Dunedin).

This episode visits the Morere Hot Springs thermal resort on the East Coast of the North Island. This resort was the subject of this print article of the time:

The New Zealand Railways Magazine
Volume 14, Issue 7 (October 2, 1939)
By W. A. Froggatt

Nestling in a picturesque valley, on the East Coast highway between Napier and Gisborne, is the charming little hamlet of Morere Springs. It is surrounded by mountainous country which, in the immediate vicinity, is covered with some of the finest native bush in New Zealand. This scenic reserve with its hot mineral spas, is under Government control and is the Mecca of hundreds of people during holiday periods. Campers are catered for in a well-equipped camping ground situated on the bank of a small river flowing through the valley.

Entering the reserve through a modern arched gateway one is attracted by the beautifully-kept gardens and lawns that surround the full-sized open air mineral bath and caretaker’s residence. Here, too, are to be found fish ponds, rockeries and rustic bridges. Dotted here and there are small archways and alcoves which have been constructed from the native manuka tree. About a hundred yards from the main entrance one enters the portals of Nature’s own domain and follows a well-defined path which will ultimately lead one into the very heart of this scenic reserve. The path now follows the course of a mountain stream whose cool, clear waters, originating high up in the bush, flow over a rocky bed, through fern-lined banks, on its way to join a tributary of the Nuhaka river.

Early photos of the Morere Hot Springs Resort

Continuing along the path one reaches No. 1 and No. 2 private bath-houses. These bath-houses are spaced at a distance of about 150 yards, and are used principally by invalids. Passing No. 2 bath-house a little more altitude is gained and, crossing the stream by a suspension bridge, one eventually reaches No. 3 bath-house, which, incidentally, is a public bath and about one-third the size of the usual swimming bath. This bath is the most popular during the winter months, as it is quite near the source of the mineral springs and, consequently, the waters are much warmer than those of the other baths. The predominating minerals in these spas include large quantities of calcium and sodium chloride. There is also sufficient free iodine to give them a pungent smell, and colour them a pale brown. In the stream below No. 3 bath-house are several deep pools which prove popular when the weather is warm. These pools are formed by small waterfalls as the stream finds its way to lower levels.

Leaving this bath the climb becomes slightly steeper; this, however, does not distract one’s attention from the surrounding beauty. After about ten minutes’ more climbing the end of the walk is reached. Here, one gazes into a deep, bush-lined chasm, over the brink of which plunges a small though picturesque waterfall. This is a beautiful sight and, as one rests awhile, it is with a feeling of satisfaction that there has been ample reward for the walk. It is not easy to leave this lovely scene and wend the way back to No. 3 bath-house, where one may bathe in the invigorating mineral waters before continuing explorations further. Leaving the bathhouse one turns off the path at a place marked with the sign, “To the Palm Grove.” Actually this track leads through several palm groves and into the very heart of the bush. The track continues up hill and down dale for a couple of miles, eventually circling round to join up with the main path near the No.1 bath-house.

Digital audio © Radio Heritage Foundation

“All roads lead to home, and the Government Tourist Bureau knows all the roads”

These records were found in a library sale in New York by one of our supporters, who donated them by hand during a cruise to New Zealand!

The recordings are 12″ 33⅓ rpm records that play from the inside out.

In the 1980s a similar media campaign was run using the catchphrase, “Don’t leave town till you’ve seen the country”, a slogan which is still part of the Kiwi vernacular today.

Transfer docket between the ZB stations © Radio Heritage Foundation
Some of the well-travelled packaging originally use to ship these records around NZ © Radio Heritage Foundation
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