Rotorua is known as being a hub for outdoor adventures, and most notably, thermal activity, making it one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations! Of course, if you’re heading here you may find it overwhelming with all the activities and lists of things to do! Here are some of the best activities in relation to the thermal hot springs and mud that make Rotorua so unique!
In Rotorua, there are plenty of spots to enjoy the thermal hot springs and mud pools, some are even free! Hells Gate and Kerosene Creek (and no you won’t be swimming in petrol!) are just a little outside of Rotorua’s main town. There are options to suit every budget, as you will see.
Rotorua has plenty of forest around so you will immediately feel relaxed when you arrive, but on another note you will notice the unique and very strong ‘egg’ smell, caused by all that geothermal activity. Don’t worry you will get used to it quickly!
The best thermal spots to head to in Rotorua
To do one of the best activities in Rotorua , you will need to hire a car and drive 25 minutes south of Rotorua City to a park called Wai-O-Tapu, meaning Sacred Water. Here you’ll find a thermal park that you can pay to enter and see the Lady Knox Geyser, Champagne Pools as well as mud pools and thermal hot springs. Prices vary for different seasons but you will be looking at around 21 USD (32.50 NZD) for an adult entry to the park.
There are also some free options for seeing some mud pools and thermal springs. In the same area and on the same road as Wai-O-Tapu, you can view free mud pools as well as take a dip in the thermal hot spring at Kerosene Creek! These are both well signposted and you follow the same turn off that you’d take to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park, down Waiotapu Loop Road. Here you can see boiling mud and afterwards continue driving to Kerosene Creek, which is found just to the side of the road. There are usually plenty of cars parked in this area so it is easy to spot! Here you can enjoy a relaxing soak in the warm water. Both are open all day and are even accessible during the evening, so grab a drink and relax in the mineral waters, sacred to the Maori for their supposed healing powers.
This key highlight that you should see when visiting Rotorua, is situated in the city centre. At Kuirau Park you’ll see hot mud pools, a foot spa with fresh thermal water, a playground, pond to feed ducks and walkways located throughout. There are a few playgrounds located within the park, so just follow the walkways to find them!
Rotorua is rich with Maori culture and the name of the park, Kuirau, comes from a traditional Maori story. A young woman named Kuirau was taken by a Taniwha (a mystical water monster) to the bottom of the lake. This made the gods angry, so they then made the lake boil to get rid of the Taniwha. Hence, this is why there is plenty of geothermal activity in the area.
There is plenty to do Kuirau Park, but the foot spa with thermal water is a must do! Here in an undercover or outdoor area you can enjoy the relaxing benefits of dipping your feet into mineral rich geothermal water. Just beware, it is very hot so watch children in this area.
There is a large pond filled with ducks and other bird life that you can feed. Keep an eye out for the native Swamp Hen known as a Pukeko. As you wander through the beautiful park settings you will find spots of fenced thermal areas where you can see hot pools of water so clear you can see straight to the bottom, others you’ll see are filled with the mud.
Relax in Hells Gate
This is another great geothermal hot spot and is a popular place for visitors to the area. This is highly recommended as it is a cultural experience and geothermal activity rolled into one! Here you are able to choose between the many activities on offer to suit your budget and interests. You can book packages online and find a full list of all the activities to do and see.
If just a walk and sightseeing activity is what you are after, then there is a walk through the park to see the mud pools, thermal water and erupting water spouts, which being Rotorua’s most active area, make a spectacular sight.
It is highly recommended to take a dip in the mud, yes you will be covered in the stuff, but the health benefits are worth it! This is a great couples activity and is for adults only. Packages for this experience start from 75 NZD (50 USD) and is worth doing at least once!
There is another package available that includes these two activities and also entry into a thermal spa starting from 90 NZD (60 USD), but there are plenty of these around in Rotorua for a lesser cost if this package deal is above your budget.
Getting here is easy, and Hells Gate is located just 10 minutes north of the main city towards Whakatane. You can catch a bus or drive yourself here, it is recommended to take a picnic lunch with you, good walking shoes and a water bottle. Staff are very helpful and if you don’t get a chance to purchase tickets online you are able to purchase onsite from the reception area.
Even though it smells like eggs, it’s a great place to relax!
Rotorua is a one of New Zealand’s top places to visit! There is so much to do here and while most head to the outdoor adventure activities in town, there is plenty more to see all around the area. Rotorua is very relaxing and taking your time at each activity and setting your own pace rather than going on a tour will make it all the more enjoyable.
Whether it’s for sightseeing or health benefits it is an ideal spot to kick back and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Take a camera and a video camera to capture some of the unique geothermal activity to show your friends and family!
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