February 18, 2014
One of the North Island’s most popular destinations, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide what to do on a short visit to Rotorua. Tons of attractions have popped up to take advantage of the masses that come to see the geothermic region.
With the numerous activities available, most with high entrance fees, it’s important to ask yourself if you are primarily interested in Maori culture, thermal wonders or a combination of both. Secondly, how important is it to you to see a geyser erupt?
At Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland the Lady Know Geyser is induced to erupt daily at 10:15.
Interested in more of the outdoor thermal sites than the Maori culture, we spent most of our one day in the volcanic region that lies about 10-15 miles south of Rotorua City, visiting first Waimangu Volcanic Valley and then Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the larger of the two parks, has a scenic-reserve feel with a walking path through jungle terrain. Suggested time to hike the entire park (4K) is 2 hours one way, taking the bus back to the main office from the ending point at the boat dock. Sights include bubbling, steaming lakes and a hot stream that runs into the larger Lake Rotomahana. Allow more time for a boat tour around the lake.
Touted in the brochure as “the youngest geothermal system in the world”, the area is most known for its tourism history and recent thermal activity. The pink terraces, an international attraction in the late 1800s, were sunk by the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera. In addition, for a few years in the early 1900s the world’s largest recorded geyser became the new big draw before ending suddenly in 1904.
For a greater concentration of thermal wonders, including an incredible chartreuse pool and the impressive Champaign Lake, we next visited Wai-O-Tapu Themal Wonderland. Three walking paths of various lengths wind through the parks principal attractions. The suggested time to walk all three (3K) is 75 minutes.
While the water levels were low on many of the thermal features and the Champagne Lake was not as pink as sometimes photographed, Devil’s Bath was the most amazing shade of chartreuse I’ve ever seen in a lake.
Keep in mind that the geyser is induced to erupt daily at 10:15, making morning hours the more popular time to visit the park. Lastly, be sure to stop by the mud pool, free, along a well-marked road, a short drive outside of the main entrance.
Back in Rotorua, the Rotorua Museum, is an interesting mix of remnants of the former belle époque bathhouse in which it is housed and 8 rooms of Maori culture and history of the area. The view of the lake from the rooftop terrace is also popular.