New Zealand – island of volcanoes
Bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers are proof of Rotorua’s volcanic background. This thermal activity makes itself known in every corner of the city, and is the reason for the area’s famed sulphur scent. Clouds of steam drift from Kuirau Park, home to boiling mud pools, crater lakes and sulphur vents.
Mt Tarawera looms over the region 25km southeast of Rotorua. Visitors can fly or 4WD to the summit of this mountain, a dormant volcano. New Zealand is where the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates collide, and nowhere is this more evident than in Rotorua.
The region’s thermal activity started with Lake Rotorua. It may be beautiful and peaceful today, but this lake has a violent history. One of several large volcanoes in the region, its underlying magma chamber collapsed after a massive eruption around 200,000 years ago. The collapse created a circular caldera about 16km wide, which filled with water to form the North Island's second largest lake.
Rotorua and the region’s other 15 lakes are connected with the Rotorua caldera and Mt Tarawera.
According to legend, Europeans discovered Rotorua’s geysers and mud pools in the 1880s, and are now among the city’s biggest draw cards. The main thermal areas are Whakarewarewa, Waimangu Valley, Wai-o-Tapu and Hell’s Gate. Fumaroles, geysers and silica terraces displaying amazing colours can also be found within minutes of the city centre.
The renowned Pohutu geyser, and geysers elsewhere in the region, are must-see attractions. Pohutu geyser, in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, erupts several times a day.
Rejuvenating spa therapies spring from Rotorua’s thermal activity and there is an extensive range on offer, from a decadent soak in the velvety waters of a thermal pool to a blissful spa or massage, or a mud wrap that leaves your skin feeling silky smooth. Rotorua’s wellness centres are among the best health spas New Zealand can offer.
With all this on offer, Rotorua is a volcanic paradise, and a great place to see nature at its most powerful.