Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Just a short drive from the busy city is one of the most fascinating areas of geothermal activity in New Zealand.
Cross boardwalks above gently simmering water and see pools of hot bubbling mud at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Peer into dark craters and watch as a geyser shoots water up to 20 metres (65 feet) into the sky.
Set off on one of the three well-signposted tracks around the park. Depending on which path you choose, the journey will take between 30 and 75 minutes to complete. A walk through this surreal, lunar-like environment provides the chance to witness some of the volcanic wonders that this region is famous for.
Look for the luminous green waters of the ominously named Devil’s Bath. The pretty trees and shrubs surrounding it make this unusually coloured pool appear even more peculiar. Carry on past the Champagne Pool, a bubbling hot spring famed for its brilliant orange rim, to a low boardwalk crossing a vast lake of steaming, cream-coloured liquid.
Back on firm ground, admire the Primrose Terraces, a set of glistening steps. Elsewhere, pools of thick boiling mud rise and fall gently while collapsed craters add to the post-apocalyptic feel of the region.
Don’t miss Lady Knox Geyser, just a 3-minute drive from the main park. Come around mid-morning and marvel as scalding water sprays into the air with amazing force. Ask for directions at the visitor centre and arrive early to get your seat in the natural amphitheatre.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is about 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of Rotorua. The attraction is open daily and has an admission fee. The visitor centre by the entrance has a café and gift shop. Wear trainers or hiking boots as the terrain here is rugged and rocky.