Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge
Explore an amazing geothermal area where threatened bird populations make their home.
Just beyond the Rotorua Museum and along the south-eastern corner of Lake Rotorua, you’ll find an amazing volcanic playground to explore that’s also home to unique plantlife and threatened birds who’ve adapted in order to survive in this harsh environment.
Sulphur Bay Wildlife Refuge is FREE to explore and within walking distance from the city centre. The 145-hectare wildlife refuge and sanctuary really lives up to its name. Magnificent steam vents, boiling mud pools, naturally hot water and the Puarenga Stream are home to an array of bird species, including the nationally threatened New Zealand dabchick, banded dotterel, and black-billed gull.
The water in the bay appears murky due to sulphur suspensions in the water. The water is low in oxygen and quite acidic (pH 3.5). Birds are often seen with the webs of their feet eaten away by the acidic waters.
The boardwalk to Sulphur Point begins just beyond the Tudor-style Bath House in Government Gardens (which is also a lovely spot for a stroll). The path, which takes roughly two hours to complete, follows the lakeshore to Motutara Point in Sulphur Bay.
Please keep to the designated pathways to avoid disturbing the wildlife. Threatened bird populations live and breed around Sulphur Bay and are sensitive to foot traffic.
Dogs are not permitted in the reserve.
More information on the unique birds and plants in Sulphur Bay can be found on the Department of Conservation website here.