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Wai o Tapu Thermal Wonderland

The Rotorua region is on nearly every itinerary I found while researching for our trip. Rotorua is a crazy unique place because of all the geothermal activity. Everywhere you look there are areas of steam coming out of the ground. We drove from Tongariro after our big alpine crossing trek according to my New Zealand itinerary.

Drive from Tongariro to Rotorua view New Zealand-min

Wai o Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Wai o Tapu Thermal Wonderland is the largest area of thermal activity in New Zealand! The grounds are huge, it took us about 75 minutes to explore everything.  There are tons of craters full of bubbling mineral water and steaming brightly colored ponds. The whole place smelled of sulfur but it was really cool to see all the different thermal waters in one place. Furthest into the park is an absolutely gorgeous view.  A bright blue mineral pond against a backdrop of green hills and bright blue sky.

On arrival we actually thought the thermal wonderland were also a hot spring but this is not the case. We walked in with flip flops and towels in our hands and the people looked at us like we were insane. There are tons of hot springs in the area which I describe more below. For wai o tapu specifically you want to wear closed toe shoes and not a bathing suit lol.

Waikite Valley Thermal Pools Springs

About a 5 minute drive down the street was the Waikite Valley Thermal Pool Springs where we got to soak in 5 different temperature pools. This location was recommended by the staff at Wai o tapu, it was just ok. We stayed for quite a long time because we really needed a good soak after our 5 hour hike yesterday. It rained while we were there but luckily there are some covered pools so we could still enjoy.

The spring are kid friendly as there were several splashing around on arrival. It is a fairly small area with the pools packed in tight so it is not as relaxing as I was hoping. I know there are some other more luxurious options for a higher price tag. Since we were caught off guard thinking that wai o tapu had it’s own hot springs we just ent with the recommendation. From the springs it was only about a 25-minute drive to Rotorua.

WaiOTapu Thermal Wonderland New Zealand-min

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