10 geothermal hot spots in Rotorua
Discover geysers, bubbling mud, steaming lakes, hot pools and more
Add these places to your must-visit list!
The natural geothermal features in Rotorua, particularly the geysers and hot springs, make up one of the country’s foremost tourist attractions, with Whakarewarewa Valley having the largest remaining concentration of geysers in New Zealand.
Whether you’re looking to relax and rejuvenate with a hot soak in our natural hot pools or mud spas, or check out our spectacular geothermal parks – each one so different from the others – you’ll find it all here, in and around the city.
These incredible, surreal places will leave you in awe and provide the most amazing backdrop for your photography.
Home to New Zealand's most active geothermal attraction. Hell’s Gate boasts the largest mud volcano and largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. As a historical site for geothermal bathing, this Māori owned valley is famous for its unique warm mud baths, sulphur pools and “health-giving” waters from the Tikitere Geothermal Reserve. Enjoy a guided or self-guided interactive geothermal walk before relaxing in the mud spa and slathering yourself with the mineral-rich mud. Then rinse off and soak in the sulphur spas. There’s even a cold plunge pool, if you dare.
A long-time favourite. Seeing the world-famous Pōhutu Geyser erupting is a sight you’ll never forget. Join one of the guided experiences where your hosts – some who are fifth generation guides – will share the history and stories of the valley, the geothermal features, and the Māori iwi who made this area their home 170 years ago. By day, you can also see our national bird in the state-of-the-art Kiwi Conservation Centre, and dine on the hāngī buffet at Pātaka Kai Restaurant overlooking Pōhutu. Upon dusk, and armed with a flashlight, you’ll enjoy a multi-sensory experience that makes the Geyser by Night tour truly remarkable. While we don’t want to give everything away, stops in the tour provide tasty treats, including one made using traditional methods.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
A must-do experience. Waimangu Volcanic Valley was created in 1886 when Mt Tarawera erupted, destroying everything in its wake and forming the seven craters that make up the valley today. A range of self-guided eco-tours allow you to see the park’s amazing geothermal features, thriving birdlife, and rare and unusual plants. Add on a Lake Rotomahana boat cruise to see the reserve’s volcanic activity from another perspective, or get even closer to the action with the Steaming Cliffs Kayak tour on the lake. The recently relaunched Round Trip tour is a full-day walking tour that retraces the steps of New Zealand’s early tourists.
A free thermal park in the city. In Rotorua, there’s no need to leave the city to check out some natural boiling, bubbling and steaming geothermal action. Kuirau Park is located within an easy walk from the city centre, just off Pukuatua and Ranolf streets, and perfect for families. Several walkways take you to see a crater lake, mud pools, hot springs, and a free thermal foot bath, all set in a beautifully manicured setting dotted with flower beds and native flora. Kuirau Park is also great place to play and picnic, with barbecues, picnic tables, children’s playground and toilets.
An iconic lakefront spa complex. Polynesian Spa has 28 beautiful hot pools, 14 of which have spectacular views over Lake Rotorua. Four different thermal pool areas cater to various groups: the Family Spa, Adult Pools and Priest Spa, Private Pools, or the Lake Spa. Two types of mineral waters feed into the pools, each with their own therapeutic properties. Priest Spring’s higher acidity levels is perfect for soothing tired muscles, aches and pains, and the alkaline water from Rachael Spring leaves skin feeling silky due to the antiseptic action of sodium silica. Luxurious treatments in the day spa are also available and highly recommended.
Crater lakes, steam and 360-degree views. Hiking to the top of Rainbow Mountain is another one for the must-do list. The well-marked trail takes you through a public reserve to the summit 743 meters above sea level. Along the way you’ll discover two colourful crater lakes, native bush that is still regenerating following the Mt Tarawera eruption, and bare, colourful steaming ridges. At the summit, 360-degree views reveal Mount Tarawera, three lakes, forests, ranges and even the volcanic peaks of Mount Tongariro to the south. The trail is roughly 2.5km one way and takes around two hours to reach the summit by foot.
Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave
One of only two geothermal caves known to exist in the world. South of Rotorua and across the beautiful Waikato River between Rotorua and Taupō, you’ll discover Orakei Korako. Also known as The Hidden Valley, Orakei Korako is another geothermal wonderland. Upon arrival, take the short boat cruise across the narrow lake to explore a world of gushing geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools, some of the largest and most amazing silica terraces in the world, and the geothermal Ruatapu Cave which descends 23 metres to a hot pool named Waiwhakaata, or Pool of Mirrors.
History, natural beauty and hot water beach. One of the largest lakes in New Zealand, Lake Tarawera is known for water sports, sizeable rainbow trout, and one of the best places in the country for astro-photography from the end of the jetty. But it’s also home to the secluded geothermal lakeside at Te Rātā Bay and Hot Water Beach, a special location where a hot spring-fed stream trickles into the lake. Take a water taxi offered by Totally Tarawera, or a four to five-hour hike to this extraordinary spot where you can dig a hot sandy hole to soak in or build a rock wall to create your own steamy spa.
Waikite Valley Thermal Pools
Hot pools and geothermal eco-trail. Just off the beaten track and nestled in a serene rural valley, Waikite Valley Thermal Pools has been a popular hot spot for nearly 50 years. Upon arrival, you’ll see the series of clever manmade terracing created to cool the boiling water as it makes its way to several hot pools with various temperatures. Prior to enjoying a relaxing soak, follow the eco-trail to learn more about the area’s geothermal features and see Te Manaroa Spring, the largest single source of boiling water in New Zealand. Waikite Valley’s pools are filled with 100% pure, natural geothermal water.
Secluded lakeside hot pools. Lake Rotoiti is a water-lover’s paradise for all your typical reasons. But the seven Manupirua Springs Hot Pools, located along the lake’s edge and surrounded by native bush, are accessible only by water or air, making it a special place to visit. On-water access and tours are offered by several operators: Katoa Lake Rotorua jet boat; Pure Cruise’s water taxi or 53-foot luxury catamaran; River Rats or Waimarino Adventures’ guided kayak tours; or your own watercraft. Alternatively, Volcanic Air offers a scenic and exciting roundtrip floatplane tour that starts on Lake Rotorua and makes a splash landing at the hot pools.
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