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Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua Overview

The geothermal wonderland, Wai-O-Tapu is one of the most fascinating sculptures created by years of volcanic activity. It is most likely the only place that perfectly showcases New Zealand’s geothermal topography. Filled with sulphur mud baths, geysers and brightly coloured pools, this place has one of the highest geothermal ratings in the world. So, for those who are deeply interested in seeing geothermal activity, this is just the right place for you.

The North Island of New Zealand is most accurately represented by geothermal activity that occurs in this area. It is best to visit Wai-O-Tapu for a couple of hours during the summer (December to February). However, the place is extremely crowded during these months. So, for those who want to see this place when it’s not filled with people, should visit this place during other months, early in the morning or during the last hour. Rated as one of the most surreal places in the world, this attraction is truly aesthetically pleasing.

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Mud Pools and Thermal Activity

  • Knox Geyser is one of the highlights of this geothermal wonderland. It can spurt upto 20 metres and erupts everyday at 10:15 am for over an hour.  
  • Champagne pool is a beautiful combination of carbon dioxide, sulphur and ferrous salts in water. This 65 metre wide and deep pool that is one of the most iconic photo spots in New Zealand. 
  • Boiling mud pools are isolating tiny sulphur pools that randomly spurt out all over the deep hot swamp. These are located just 5 minutes from the Wai-O-Tapu entrance and are fascinating to watch. 
  • The Devil’s bathtub is a lime coloured sulphur bathtub or crater that was created from a deep underground eruption. 
  • Ngakoro Lake is interesting in a way that it changes its colour from dull olive green to acid green when in contact with sunlight. 
  • Hike and tours are available at Wai-O-Tapu. There are 3 intertwined routes: 1.5km, 2km and 3km and take around 30, 40 and 75 minutes respectively. 

Entry Timings and Restrictions

Wai-O-Tapu is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm from April to October and from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm from November to March. The last admissions are at 3:45 pm (April to October) and 4:45 pm (November to March). Wai-O-Tapu is only open 8:30 am to 1:00 pm on Christmas Day. The entry fee is NZD 32.5 for adults and NZD 11 for children (5-15 years old). The family package is for NZD 85 (2 adults and up to 2 children). 

Important Information

  • This place has visitor facilities such as public washrooms, lockers, a gift shop, a small cafe, picnic areas and a visitor’s centre. 
  • The Wai-O-Tapu is one of the only walking trails that is wheelchair and stroller accessible. 
  • It is recommended to bring water, sun protection and wear closed-toe shoes. 
  • There is parking available near Wai-O-Tapu. 
  • Visitors are asked not to wander in non-designated areas since this geothermal area often has boiling grounds and water. 

How To Reach Wai-O-Tapu

This attraction is located around Wai-O-Tapu road which is around 27 kilometres south of Rotorua and it would take around 20 minutes to reach by road. It is situated around 40 minutes north of Taupo on state highway 5. The closest airport from this attraction is Rotorua airport which is 36 kilometres away and it would take around 35 minutes by car if State Highway 5 and 30 are taken. Visitors can take cabs and taxis from the airport as well as from Rotorua and Taupo. One can also find local buses from Taupo and Rotorua that take visitors to Wai-O-Tapu and back.

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