Te Waikoropupu: Wai Ora- Water of Life


The waters of Te Waikoropüpü represent the lifeblood of Papatüänuku (Earth Mother) and the tears of Ranginui (Sky Father).

The spiritual and physical survival of all things is dependant on the maintenance of the mauri (life force), wairua (spirit), mana (power) and tapu (sacredness) of wai.




Water has different qualities and Te Waikoropüpü Springs falls into the category of wai ora (water of life). Wai Ora is the purest form of freshwater. It gives and sustains life, can rejuvenate damaged mauri (life force) and counteract evil.

The quotes above come from the information panels at the site.

pupu springs
Dancing Springs

There’s a lot more scientific stuff as well. Facts and figures like:

  • How the water is some of the clearest in the world. How do they know? It’s something to do with visibility to 63m when the visibility of distilled water is 83m…something like that. There’s a place near Rapanui (Easter Island) that’s clearer…and some beneath Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Anyways- it’s close to being optically pure.


  • How the water in the Springs starts life as rainfall, but some emerges at the Springs as 10 year old water, while some emerges as 1 year old water. Really? How do they even know?
  • About the plants, mosses, eels, crustaceans and fish etc that live in this little garden of Eden


It’s the cultural heritage I’m most interested in- the stories, the legends, the spiritual and healing properties associated with the waters.

The main spring
The main spring

Anyways, if you want to check out the fact sheet, the link to a reproduction of the panels is here.

Where is it?


Te Waikoropupu is found a few kilometres outside Takaka- the main town in the Golden Bay region- on the way to Collingwood. Follow the signs to Pupu Springs.


Takaka is 107km northwest of Nelson on State Highway 60. To get here you’ll need to negotiate the winding roads of Takaka Hill, so allow at least 90 mins.



You’ll need to walk in from the main carpark. It’s not far, but allow 30-45mins for the round trip. The path is well graded, board-walked for some, and pram and wheelchair accessible.


Take some time to check out the vegetation and listen to the birdsong- and don’t forget to look up.




There are toilets here, and running water, but no garbage bins- all rubbish must be taken out.


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

2 thoughts

  1. Oh how fascinating! I still remember going to World Expo 88 in Brisbane (I actually worked there!) and going to the NZ pavilion and they were sharing folklore and traditional stories etc. It was wonderful!

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