If you want to experience some real geothermal activities while you’re in New Zealand (and yes you definitely should!), Rotorua is the place to go.
Located on the north island about 3,5 hours south of Auckland we have gone there for weekends (only stayed one night), although you may want to stay longer if you want to be able to see as much as possible (because there is SO MUCH to see and do there!).
Here are a couple of recommendations which you can do in a day:
One of the most popular places to visit is Hells Gate, which is about 20 min out from Rotorua. The reserve is set over 50 acres with a variety of geothermal features like steaming fumeroles and pools of boiling mud.
The entry for the geothermal walk around the reserve is $35 per person (for an adult, child is $17,50). They have several different packages that you can choose from if you want to try the mud baths or spa activities.
For the geothermal walk you follow a trail around the reserve, and I have never seen anything like it! The hot steam is rising from the ground everywhere, and it feels a bit surreal walking through it all. What people don’t warn you about though is the smell! The so-called “rotten egg-smell” of geothermal areas is associated with hydrogen sulphide and is exactly what it sounds like, a strong smell of rotten egg… Or a really bad egg fart! But the experience makes it worth it! 😂
Hell’s Gate is also home to Kakahi Falls; the biggest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a very special place for the Maori people, and warriors use to clean themselves here when they returned from battle. Unfortunately you can’t swim in it, but it looks beautiful!
When you get to the end of the walk you can choose to carve your own souvenirs (not sure if that is mainly for the kids but James and I did it anyway 😃). You also get to dip your feet in a hot pool, which was wonderful!
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
We then decided to go to another of the most visited places; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, which is about 45 min from Hell’s Gate.
Tip: don’t follow the GPS! Follow the signs on the road! 🤪
The GPS will take you to the Lady Knox Geyser , which you can see erupt at 10.15am everyday (we missed it, hah). If you however want to go to the geothermal wonderland you follow the road to the tourist centre.
The entry to the park is $32,50 (adult, child is $11), and that is including the entry to see the Lady Knox Geyser.
This is definitely where you should go if you want the colourful water. It is not as steamy as Hell’s Gate, but it still has the smell… 🤣
Wai-O-Tapu is however filled with the most beautiful colourful lakes you have ever seen. The park is bigger than Hell’s Gate, and we spent a good 2,5 hours there (to walk around the whole park is around 3 km).
You get to see some crazy beautiful lakes with water that is out of this world, and all colours are natural and due to different mineral elements in the ground in the area. Definitely worth a visit! 😃
To finish the day off we drove to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, where we had a Deluxe Private Pool for $30 per person. That gives you 30 min in the private pool which may sound like an expensive deal, but at 38,5 degrees 30 min is pretty much all you need!
The view over Lake Rotorua was amazing and the pools were so private. I definitely recommend this as a little treat ☺️
There will be more posts about things to do in Rotorua, so sign up to get notifications whenever I post so that you don’t miss anything… 🙃