In the late 1950s an entrepreneur and former builder Des McIsaac and his wife Paddy sold up the tearooms at the Kaimai Summit and brought a 2.5-hectare block on Cambridge Road. The land was undeveloped and swampy. Work began on developing the land and large earthmoving machinery was used to construct the many terraces and areas of flat land that Des hoped to use for a 56-bedroom Thermal Motel and Conference Centre promoting health and wellness with the benefits that come from mineral water. Several large pools and 6 private pools were envisioned.
A Brief History of Fernland Mineral Pools
Early Years – 1970
Paddy had long suspected that the geothermal water ran beneath the property and these suspicions were confirmed with the local water diviner. In 1970 drilling for hot water began and the first bore was established which is reasonably shallow at 200 metres and has a cooler supply of mineral water reading at 37 degrees celsius, this was not considered adequate and so a second bore was established.
In1973 at 275 metres pumping pure crystal clear mineral water at rate 30,000 litres per hour and at a temperature of 34 o degrees Celsius. This water source is still used today although a new bore was installed in 2011 with the water now testing at 56o degrees Celsius.
These 2 water sources are used to provide the perfect temperature year-round.
1974 – 1982
The Motel Complex never eventuated but in 1975 Fernland Spa Hot Pools opened to the public. initially with just the large main pool, reception area and male and female changing rooms. The four indoor private pools soon followed.
The property was also used at this time by Des and Paddy to supplement their income as a cold-water fish farm with 11 ponds in use.
Disaster struck in 1974 when emptying the Cambridge Rd water reservoir for cleaning an error by the city council resulted in the water being inadvertently directed through Fernland Spa in torrent 200,000 litres of water that wiped out most of the fish stocks and left a trail of mud and debris throughout the pool and amenities.
The council expressed regret but offered no assistance in the clean up which took months. The McIaacs ended up winning a court case against the council years later but the strain was too much and in 1982 sold the business to a trust which then leased the business to three families whom subsequently operated Fernland Spa for 7 years, the first family added a further 4 open air private pools.
1989 – Today
The Lockart family took over the lease in 1989 and then brought the water rights, business and 2.5 hectares surrounding the pool complex 4 years later.
Sue and Peter Lockart retired in 2002 and sold the business to their daughter and her husband who still run it today.
Over this time a small campground has been established, cabin accommodation added and a pavilion built to host events.