All you need to know about the geo-thermal parks in New Zealand

Areas that have a lot of geothermal activity are rare on earth. Despite that, New Zealand houses one of the largest numbers of areas spreading across large parts of land that are famous for their geothermal activities. These areas contain a lot of hot water streams and pools of bubbling water rich in minerals. New Zealand has this many geothermal locations because of the active volcanoes in the region. It is located on the boundary of 2 tectonic plates.

Parks have been built around many of the geothermal areas for the ease of visitors. If you are planning your first visit to New Zealand, make sure you book all your planned activities in advance. The following are some of the best parks that you must visit to experience the geothermal activities in New Zealand. Don't forget to include them in your New Zealand itinerary

Wai-o-tapu thermal wonderland

This is the most popular geothermal spot in New Zealand. It is well developed and houses some of the most well-known geothermal attractions in the country. The famous Lady Knox geyser is also present here which goes off at exactly 10:15 am every day. Make sure that you start early and reach Wai-O-Tapu on time so that you can witness the geyser first hand. There are a lot of other hot water pools, mud pools and other geothermal elements present throughout the area. The star attraction in Wai-O-Tapu thermal park is Champagne Pool.

Recommended time to spend: It is better to have 2-3 hours of free time in order to completely explore the area.

Highlight of the park: Champagne Pool

Cost of entry for Adult: $32

Surrounding Attractions: Whakarewarewa Forest, Crater Lake, Rainbow Mountain

Distance from nearby city: 31kms south from Rotorua

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu

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Kuirau Park

This is the only free geothermal park in the region and is a very popular tourist attraction. As it is located in the heart of the Rotorua city, it is very easy to reach here, especially if you're staying at Base Rotorua which is a stones throw from the park. The area is filled with multiple pools and lush green land, where you can sit and enjoy with friends. You can also take a dip in one of the many geothermal pools present there. You can enjoy them without the need to pay an entry fee of any kind.

Recommended time to spend: 1-2 hours

Highlight of the park: Bubbling mud, pleasant environment, large and open area

Cost of entry for Adult: Free for all

Surrounding Attractions: Roturua Central Mall, Mountain Jade, Eat Street and Ohinemutu

Distance from nearby city: Within Rotorua city

Kuirau Park

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Waimangu Volcanic Valley

This volcanic valley was formed on 10th June 1886 after the volcano Tarawera erupted. Because of this, the volcano grew in size by up to 10 times and the molten lava destroyed the whole landscape. Ever since, the area has been a great spot for travelers who wish to explore the geothermal activities in New Zealand. To explore the whole area, you can take a walk along the pathways. You can also go a lake cruise. While you are at the location, download the Waimangu app to see the geothermal activities that vanished after the volcanic eruption.

Recommended time to spend: 1-2 hours will be enough to thoroughly enjoy everything in the geothermal park.

Highlight of the park: This is one of the youngest geothermal areas in the world and you get a lot of activities here like cruising on the lake.

Cost of entry for Adult: Starting from $42

Surrounding Attractions: Kerosene creek, Lake Okareka

Distance from nearby city: It is around 25 KM away towards the north from the center of Rotorua.

Inferno Crater

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Hell's Gate

Hell's Gate is a thermal park near Rotorua, known for its dramatic landscape. There aren't many tree shades in the park as you walk around, so it is best recommended to not visit Hell's Gate park during afternoon. There is a mud pool where you can soak your feet and maybe even take a bath if you feel too ecstatic about mud.

Recommended time to spend: Comparatively smaller park, max. 1 hour is sufficient

Highlight of the park: The Star highlight of the thermal park, according to me is “Steaming Cliffs”, hottest attraction in the park in terms of water's temperature.

Cost of entry for Adult: Starting from $42

Surrounding Attractions: Kerosene creek, Lake Okareka

Distance from nearby city: It is around 25 KM away towards the north from the center of Rotorua.

Hell's Gate

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Orakei Korako

Called the ‘Hidden valley’, this is another beautiful location in the country. It is famous for its abundant geothermal activities. Unlike other commonly found geothermal areas in New Zealand, this one actually has a lot more interesting views to offer. Orakei Korako features tons of geothermal elements and caves throughout the area, making it even more beautiful and exciting for travelers. A major highlight of the location is actually the wide variety of silica terraces in the region. The most famous of them all is the Folden fleeces terrace. It is bronze and golden in color. The mud pools here are also very popular. Everyone who visits the area definitely speaks greatly of their beauty.

Recommended time to spend: You can spend anywhere between 1-2 hours here depending on your mood.

Highlight of the park: Various caves, thermal pools and beautiful terraces

Cost of entry for Adult: $39

Surrounding Attractions: Lake Taupo, Waikato River Jet Boat Ride, Maori rock carvings

Distance from nearby city: It is situated just 31 kilometers in north direction to the city of Taupo.

Te Puia (Whakarewarewa)

Once home to a fortified Maori village this location is one of the must visit places. Now, this location serves as one of the best places to explore and learn about the traditional Maori culture along with experiencing geothermal activities. The biggest attraction in the area is the massive Perekohuru water pool. It is a very large pool which boils to bubbling temperatures for 45 min at a time. There are a lot of other mud pools and natural geysers located all around the area which you can enjoy without any problem. This place receives good amount of tourists every season. It is among the places that you must not forget to visit.

Recommended time to spend: 1 hour

Highlight of the park: Perekohuru hot water pool

Cost of entry for Adult: $45 to $70

Surrounding Attractions: This is an ancient Maori village site that is well preserved. You can experience the Maori culture by exploring the area.

Distance from nearby city: It is situated within Rotorua's Fenton Street.

Te Puia

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Craters of the moon

This compound sees one of the highest amounts of geothermal activity in the region. Until a nearby power plant was setup, this area wasn’t open for public viewing. Due to heavy geothermal activities, the area was always filled with steam. But now the power plant traps most of it for producing energy. Due to this, the area has been opened for the public. A lot of tourists come here every year to experience the mystical view created by the steam present all around the area. You will be able to see many craters, creeks and hot water pools here. A complete tour of this place takes less than an hour.

Recommended time to spend: 1 hour is enough to explore and enjoy the geothermal park by walk.

Highlight of the park: The area has clean and proper pathway allowing to easily explore the full area without problems.

Cost of entry for Adult: $8

Surrounding Attractions: Huka falls, multiple biking and hiking trails.

Distance from nearby city: It's just 8 minutes North of Taupo

Craters of The Moon

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Author: Umang Trivedi is an adventure & offbeat travel blogger based in India. He has traveled extensively across India, Europe, South East Asia and New Zealand. Along with sharing his travel experiences, he also compiles travel tips, itineraries and a lot more to help readers plan their trips better. 

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