Lonely Planet review
This outstanding museum occupies a grand Tudor-style edifice. It was originally an elegant spa retreat called the Bath House (1908): displays in the former shower rooms give a fascinating insight into some of the eccentric therapies once practised here, including 'electric baths' and the Bergonie Chair.
A gripping 20-minute film on the history of Rotorua, including the Tarawera eruption, runs every 20 minutes from 9am (not for small kids – the seats vibrate and the eruption noises are authentic!). The fabulous new Don Stafford Wing houses eight object-rich galleries dedicated to Rotorua's Te Arawa people, featuring woodcarving, flax weaving, jade, interactive audiovisual displays and the stories of the revered WWII 28 Maori Battalion (a movie on the battalion runs every 30 minutes from 9.30am). Also here are two art galleries (with air swabbed clean of hydrogen sulphide), and a cool cafe with garden views (although the best view in town can be had from the viewing platform on the roof).