The Waiotapu Thermal Springs is one of the most amazing places we saw in our short stay in New Zealand. Done on a short trip/tour from Rotorua, we took half a day to explore and walk around the springs. As for most of the attractions around but not actually in Rotorua, transport is a bit of an issue. I really recommend hiring a car if that’s within your budget (it wasn’t within ours, or at least it seemed that way) as you’ll be able to keep your own timetable and not have to take a lot of buses.
Buses from Rotorua out are sort of packaged as a ‘tour’, although really you’re just getting transport. For example it was around $68 for the ‘tour’ to Waiotapu from Rotorua including pick up. Admission is $32.50 (all in New Zealand dollars) per person so that’s around $70 for two on the transport. If you had a third person you’d be ahead if you hired a car probably. You can then cram in something else in the afternoon and be well ahead. Of course everything evens out when you want to see stuff in town which doesn’t require transport.
The day started off with us being dropped off at the ‘geyser’, (which the New Zealanders pronounce gay-zer). This is hot spring water shooting straight up in the air at 10am every day. All the tourists sit or stand in this little amphitheatre to get a good shot, and then the geyser is fed a concoction of soap and a couple of other things which builds up over a minute or two before it blows. It can continue to spurt upwards for up to fifteen minutes depending on the day, but we got about thirty seconds.
It’s obviously all for the tourists and not really the highlight of the day. The bus then took us to the main entrance for the vast thermal pools that are the true wonder of the area. There is a gift shop and a café where we had lunch (it was quite nice actually) and then we went through the entrance. On the price of entrance ($32.50) I wonder if that alone is really a fair price. I guess they need to protect the area because there are so many people going through there. But one thing is for sure – New Zealand is not a cheap place if you want to see all these things.
There are around 3 kilometres of tracks and boardwalks that we followed around the thermal springs area. The sulphur smell was strong in places but not overwhelming, although I’m not sure it helps one’s breathing. It was a warm day – high twenties – but the sky was mostly clear and it was perfect for photos.
There is a huge range of pools that we passed. Some are just mud, bubbling over quietly, others are lakes with some amazing colours from oranges to greens and more. There are smaller pools and there are also waterfalls. It’s a pretty magical place. Well, it certainly would be if there at the right time before the throngs of tourists arrive and take a million selfies. But hey – that’s the age we live in now. You have to expect it I guess.
Anyways, I am not going to write more, because simply only the photos can show what’s so amazing about this place. Should have been cheaper, and would have been better with less visitors, but still awesome. Have you ever been to a place like Waiotapu? Please do comment, and May the Journey Never End!