• Geothermal hotspots in Rotorua

Top 5 geothermal hotspots in Rotorua

February 7, 2019

Top 5 geothermal hotspots in Rotorua

Rotorua is a geothermal hotspot in every sense of the word – from hot waterfalls to hot water beaches, natural hot springs, mud baths and even sulphur spas, it’s all here.

But asides from all that soaking, you’ll come face to face with incredible volcanic areas that look like no other place on earth and wonder if you’ve stepped back in time. Active geysers, crater lakes, bubbling mud pools – scenes straight out of the most epic sci-fi movie you’ve ever seen.

Here’s our top 5 favourite geothermal hotspots for you to discover while in Rotorua-land.


  1. Whakarewarewa

Whakarewarewa is a geothermal wonderland with a real-life Māori village at its heart – and recognised as New Zealand’s only living Māori village. Twenty families call Whakarewarewa home, so you can meet the locals and engage with Māori culture and tradition in an authentic home environment.  A highlight for many is the geothermal hangi meal. At Whakarewarewa hangi consist of meat and root vegetables cooked in their geothermal steam boxes, with accompanying vegetables cooked in bubbling mineral pools.

The astonishing thing about this place is that real people actually get to live here – with natural hot springs to bathe in each morning, native bush walks to explore and panoramic views of steaming lakes and spouting geysers, which includes Pōhutu, the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a pretty spectacular place to call home, one you’re invited to discover.

  1. Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera

Located at Te Rata Bay on the pristine shores of Lake Tarawera, Hot Water Beach is a perfect little getaway to enjoy as an all-day outing or even an overnighter. Just remember that because of its secluded location, you’ll have to take your own water and food supplies out here.

Hot Water Beach is an off-the-beaten path location only accessible via water taxi (which must be pre-booked) or by foot via the Tarawera Trail. Taking on the Tarawera Trail is an advanced 15 km hike one-way from the car park, so you can definitely treat yourself to a long hot soak once you get to Hot Water Beach.

Aerial View of Hot Water Beach

With a DOC campsite available, you can completely immerse yourself in nature with an overnight stay in the great outdoors and natural hot springs at your beck and call – the perfect place to watch the stars or the sunrise if you’re an early bird.

  1. Wai-O-Tapu

 Visually, Wai-O-Tapu is a stunning geothermal masterpiece. The whole experience is really something out of this world. When you see before your eyes the raw energy and sheer power of Lady Knox Geyser, it’s almost impossible not to be awestruck. There are well-defined tracks to explore (stroller and wheelchair accessible) sculpted by thousands of years of volcanic activity. You’ll find champagne pools of eye-popping colour just begging you to try and capture the natural phenomena on camera.

Wai-O-Tapu’s sprawling geothermal area is an unforgettable place that will leave you with a strong sense of wonder and reverence for our beautiful earth.  Open every day of the year, Wai-O-Tapu also has a Visitor Centre, gift shop and café to make your visit here complete.

  1. Kuirau Park

Located right in the heart of Rotorua’s city centre, this geothermal nature park is super accessible and free for visitors to enjoy. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, you can easily spend half a day here to BBQ, picnic, run around at the children’s playground and then top it all off with a free hot mineral bath for your feet. There’s even a food market held here every Saturday morning, so you can treat yourself to some tasty local fare. Kuirau Park is also an official wedding venue so don’t be surprised if you stumble upon lovebirds in the beautiful garden surrounds.


  1. Hells Gate

If you want a place to play in the mud, then Hells Gate is the place for you. This sacred Māori site is New Zealand’s only geothermal mud bath complex complete with mud pools, geysers, hot springs and the largest hot waterfall in the entire Southern Hemisphere.

Just imagine 50 acres of geothermal muddy goodness at your fingertips, packed with healing properties for your skin.

You can soak in a mud bath for up to 20 minutes, or take a sulphur spa, go for a bush walk with a guided tour, grab a bite at the café, order a genuine hangi meal, or even try your hand at a genuine Maori wood carving experience – but only after you’ve thoroughly rinsed off of course!

  • "A unique way to see Maori culture combined with geothermal activities. The place is beautiful."
    Xinhui Y, via TripAdvisor
  • "A perfect way to introduce visitors to Tikanga Maori. Powerful and impressive."
    TotsiensVal, via TripAdvisor
  • "Our guide's knowledge of her people and stories made the tour very educational and inspiring."
    TripReview 777, via TripAdvisor