Wai-O-Tapu (meaning 'sacred waters' in Maori) is a stunning geothermal attraction with a well-deserved reputation for being the most colourful and diverse in New Zealand. Wai-O-Tapu is part of one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand; literally covered with steam vents, boiling pools of mud, multi-coloured mineral laden pools and collapsed craters.
The Champagne Pool
The jewel in the Wai-O-Tapu crown, the Champagne Pool, is a magnificently coloured spring with a surface temperature of 74 degrees C. The vivid colours strike you as soon as you see the pool and the vapour rising from the surface carries the unmistakable perfume of hydrogen sulphide ('rotten egg gas').
|Me - with the rotten-egg gas blowing away from where I am standing.|
Devil's Home is a collapsed crater where volcanic activity has coloured the wall a greenish yellow. It isn't hard to imagine how this feature got its name.
The Artist's Palette
The multi-coloured Artist's Pallete gets its colour from the overflowing mineral-laden water of the Champagne Pool.
The Opal Pool
This looked more like bubbling green sludge than opals to me but it was fascinating nevertheless.
I am not sure even The Devil would want to take a bath in this. Sadly, there were some dead birds floating at the edges - a testament to how dangerous the pool is. As we watched, several more birds were dicing with death by swooping down, skimming the water and flying off again. I have no idea what they were doing or whether they appreciated the danger they were in.
The Oyster Pool
You can't really see it in the photo but there were bubbles in the centre of the oyster pool where the water was hot enough to boil.
The Mud Pool
The cauldron-like Mud Pool is a few minutes up the road from Wai-O-Tapu. It is all that remains of an ancient mud volcano. Don't miss it! Trying to catch a decent photo wasn't easy.
- There are 3 kms of paths winding through Wai-O-Tapu, divided into three sections. Section 1 is 1.5 km, sections 1 & 2 are 2 km and sections 1, 2 & 3 are 3 kms. The whole park takes a couple of hours to walk around slowly.
- The Lady Knox Geyser is in a separate area, a 3 minute drive from the main park. It erupts at 10.15 a.m each day.
- Wai-O-Tapu is easy to walk around. There are boardwalks and formed pathways throughout but wear sensible shoes. Flip-flops, sandals and other open-toed shoes aren't practical.
- Bring a hat, water and sunscreen.
- If you visit at lunch time, the cafe has a good range of food and a very pleasant sitting out area.
- Don't miss the Mud Pool - a large area of ferociously bubbling and erupting mud. It is outside the park, a few minutes drive from the entrance.
- Wai-O-Tapu is between Rotorua and Taupo in New Zealand's North Island, approximately 20 minutes drive from Rotorua and 40 minutes from Taupo.
- From April to October Wai-O-Tapu is open between 8.30 am and 5 pm with the last admission at 3.45 pm. from November to March it is open between 8.30 am and 6 pm with the last admission at 4.45 pm. Wai -O-Tapu is closed on Christmas Day.
- Admission prices are NZD32.50 for adults, NZD11.00 for children and NZD80 for a family of two adults and up to 3 children. Children under 5 years old are free.
Other blog posts from our two weeks in New Zealand:
- Click here for my post on our visit to Wai-O-Tapu two years ago.
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Note: David and I received complimentary admission to Wai-O-Tapu.