Planning a trip to New Zealand’s geothermal capital? Rotorua City is best known for its geothermal activity, with several geysers, hot springs, mud pools and more dotted in and around the city. Whether you’re looking for a dramatic photo backdrop or want to soak your feet into a free foot bath, explore Rotorua’s natural wonders with our list of favourite geothermal attractions below!
Wai-O-Tapu (Te Reo for ‘sacred waters’) is a geothermal area just south of Rotorua. The pools here are incredibly coloured with surreal shades of yellow, green and orange thanks to volcanic activity beneath the earth. The Champagne Pool is an incredibly striking example!
This area also includes the Lady Knox Geyser, which erupts each day at around 10:15 AM, launching a jet of boiling water up to 20 meters in the air. These eruptions can continue for up to an hour. Fun fact: it’s the only geothermal attraction in New Zealand with no name in Te Reo, as it lay undiscovered until the early 20th century!
Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa, on the other hand, has long been in use by the local Māori, who used an acidic pool called Te Pupunitanga for centuries. A number of bathhouses have existed in this area throughout history, and it’s still regarded today as one of the best locations for a therapeutic spa in the world.
Today, visitors can opt for a massage, full spa therapy, or just bathe in the mineral-rich waters to relax and unwind!
Looking for something within walking distance from Rotorua accommodation? Kuirau Park is a public park is right next to Rotorua’s CBD, making it the most accessible location on our list, and also making it free!
Kuirau is a popular place to wander for tourists, as it features several boiling mud pools and steam vents, and even a few hot pools that are safe to dip your toes in. Make sure you know which is which though; the naturally occurring boiling pools are far too hot to safely their test temperatures!
Even if you’d rather not soak your feet, the park is still a great showcase of some of the geothermal activity right beneath the city.
Hell’s Gate may sound intimidating, but it’s actually another wellness spa just like the Polynesian Spa mentioned above! Hell’s Gate is New Zealand’s only geothermal mud pool spa, but also doubles as a thermal park, meaning you can tour the grounds and take in the sights and sounds of the native bush and thermal vents, which billow steam into the sky around you. The park also features a cool plunge pool to refresh yourself after soaking in the mud pools!
Te Puia is where you’ll find New Zealand’s most famous geyser; the Pōhutu Geyser. Pōhutu is the biggest active geyser in the southern hemisphere, and it erupts frequently—about once or twice an hour.
This is also where the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute is, so it’s a great place to visit to learn more about the indigenous culture of NZ, and even see some kiwi birds in the local Kiwi Conservation Centre.
Finally, we have Waimangu Valley. Waimangu is the world’s youngest geothermal system, as it was created in the wake of the Mt Tarawera eruption in 1886. Previously home to the Pink and White Terraces—the lost eight wonder of the world—this valley is now a unique snapshot of the landscape as it would have looked in prehistory. Entering the valley is like stepping back to the dawn of time, and it’s a great place to visit in order to see a lot of different kinds of geothermal activity at once.
Visiting Rotorua? We can help.
If you’re planning on visiting Rotorua, we’ve got your accommodation sorted. The four-star Lake Rotorua Hotel is close to the airport, and only a short walk from the lake and city centre. Our hotels are also some of the few which aren’t being used as MIQ facilities, so you can be assured of a safe, relaxing stay. Book accommodation online on our website today or get in touch with our team for more tips on what to explore during your stay in Rotorua!