After Napier, it was time to go to NZ’s famous hot springs town Rotorua, known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture.
They weren’t joking about the geothermal activity… the sulphur smell hits as soon as you get out of the car! Pee-huuuu.
All over town there were pockets of activity where you could see springs bubbling and steaming.We headed over to Te Puia to see Pōhutu, the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere. We had to wait a bit because it erupts for awhile and then stops, but it is such an active geyser that she erupts 1-2x an hour.In between waiting for Pōhutu, we walked around the park and saw a real kiwi in an indoor nocturnal habitat and various geothermal pools that were bubbling. If you happened to fall into the pool below, it would instantly melt your skin off! :OThe water around Pōhutu was an incredible iridescent aqua, but most of the temperatures mean that you cannot jump into just any hot spring without a serious risk of burning yourself.It was fun to simply watch the bubbling muck sometimes, which provided a nonstop visual similar to simmering chocolate fondue.Eventually we headed back to Pōhutu and she was bursting in full steam. It was pretty impressive to see in person!Neither of us had really seen an active geyser before and they are pretty neat!With lots of geothermal boring in the 1980s, many of the geysers stopped being active during this time. There was another geyser here that used to be even bigger, but it hasn’t started erupting again since officials ordered the closure of all bores.Te Puia also has a Maori cultural center with some examples of traditional Maori architecture and housing as well as arts and crafts. It was a nice addition to the geothermal viewing since we sadly missed the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival while we were there.
After visiting Te Puia, we also really wanted to try out some hot springs. Despite having the “worst summer in 20 years”, we ended up with one of our hottest days when we went and it was actually just too hot to enjoy the hot springs. The water coming from the springs is actually so hot when it comes out that they have to run it through a series of pipes to cool it down before it enters the pools.
Try your luck or plan going in autumn or winter! Sitting in a steamy pool in the cold sounds heavenly.