Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve

Learn about geothermal activity and how the Maori people have been living in these intense surroundings for hundreds of years.

Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve is home to as many as 500 hot springs. See gurgling, steaming hot-water pools along with one of the largest geysers in New Zealand. Find out more about the Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao tribe and watch demonstrations of traditional Maori arts and crafts.

Filled with brightly coloured water of varying hues, the pools of Whakarewarewa emit steam into the air, creating an almost ghostly atmosphere. Walk along the paths leading further into the reserve and look for silica terraces shimmering in the sun.

The reserve also contains 65 geyser vents, some of which shoot water into the air at regular intervals. The most impressive of these is Pohutu. Head for the elevated platform that overlooks Pohutu and observe from a safe distance as hot water sprays as high as 30 metres (100 feet) into the air, as many as 15 times a day.

If all that steam starts to make your eyes water, venture into the Maori village. Made up of traditional carved houses, this settlement has been here for 700 years and remains home to the Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao people.

Follow a guide around the main buildings and enjoy a performance of Maori dancing and music. Listen to stories of how the tribe came to live and thrive in this hostile environment and eat delicious buttery corn, cooked by the natural thermal waters. Consult with a ta moko tattoo artist about your very own personal tattoo design and sign up for flax-weaving lessons to learn how to create garments and tools.

Drive south of Rotorua for just over 5 minutes to reach Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve. The reserve and village are open daily and there is an admission fee.