The Geothermal Wonders of New Zealand
The Geothermal Wonderlands of New Zealand
Guest post by Mike Arnold
New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful and mind-blowing natural landscapes on the planet. Featuring horizons full of mountain views to single-lane highways that stretch further than the eye can see, visiting New Zealand is at the top of most travellers go-to lists and is a must for anyone wishing to experience how beautiful this planet can be. Included in this list of natural spectacles, is the geothermal areas of land located in the centre of the North Island, which is home to some the of most unique landscapes in the country. Due to New Zealand's volcanic build-up, pockets of heat, water and underground metals have reacted together for millions of years and consequently have created some breathtaking scenes for you to enjoy.
Hell's Gate (Tikitere)
Located to the north-west of Rotorua, the ominous sounding Hell's Gate is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area and is home to some of the most stunning landscapes as well as a natural spa and wellness centre. Filled with over 50 acres of naturally heated mud pools and lakes, the site also includes the highest hot waterfall to be found in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors are welcome to walk around at their own pace or book a tour guide who will able to show them around and share valuable information on the parks history. For those inclined to a bit of pampering, there is a free mud foot bath available so you can experience for yourself what this unique mud feels like.
Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon is home to a unique and breathtaking landscape filled with deep pits, cloaked in a steamy, geo-thermal fog that resembles scenes from another planet. Located a couple of miles north of Taupo, the site is open to the public all year around, except Christmas Day, and contains an amazing collection of bubbling mud pools and natural vents that shoot steam miles into the air. There is a boarded pathway that snakes around the various landmarks on the site and you can expect to finish the route in one to two hours. Prepare yourself for some funky smells as deep underground, volcanic heat rapidly travels up through the earth to heat the mud pools and the minerals it contains. The entry fee is very reasonable and is well worth taking the time out to visit.
Orakei Korako Geothermal Park & Cave
Located between Taupo and Rotorua, the Orakei Korako park is one of the most active geothermal parks on the North Island. From the moment you arrive, you will notice the steaming hill of volcanic activity from the other side of the river. Jump onboard the ferry, which is included in the admission price, and be taking to another world. Filled with over 20 roaring geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools, Orakei is also home to the thermal Ruatapu Cave, which descends over 30 metres into the ground with the famous 'Pool of Mirrors' at its base. The area is very accessible with a board walkway that allows you to traverse the terrain with ease and fully absorb the sights, the smells and the beautiful, awe-inspiring natural colours.
If you're looking to explore some breathtaking geothermal activity and get a taste for some of New Zealand's cultural history, then Whakarewarewa is the place for you. Housing some of the most unique volcanic landscapes in the area, the site is home to the Tuhourangi , a Maori tribe that have lived at the site for over 200 years. There is a cultural tour package available to cater for all your needs and as well as the opportunity to explore and discover some of the most amazing natural landscapes New Zealand has to offer. You are also invited to watch some traditional Maori performances, courtesy of the native tribe, where you can experience a variety of songs that tell of the Maori's deep history through stories and legends.
The Wai-O-Tapu thermal park is easier the most amazing and most breathtaking geothermal site in the whole of New Zealand. Offering its visitors one of the most surreal landscapes on the planet, the site is home a vast number of different pools that, over the course of millions of years, have transformed into a vibrant and picturesque masterpiece. Located just under an hours drive south of Rotorua, the site allows you to explore at your own pace, allowing you to fully appreciate how much of a spectacle the area is. Home to landmarks that boast a rainbow of colours, Wai-O-Tapu is a must for any tourist visiting the area. There are numerous routes around the site, the most popular of which takes around one to two hours and takes you to some locations that you will not believe exist!