Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland, NZ

The first thing I heard about the town of Rotoroa was that it’s got a weird smell hanging over the entire town. This intriguing fact was due to the amount of thermal geoactivities that surrounds the town, the various geysers, thermal volcanoes and the likes that gives off an extra serving of sulfur in the air we breath.

I’m glad to share my own experiences that the sulfuric smell was much overrated, especially around town. Fact is, Rotoroa is a great place to base yourself on your exploration of New Zealand’s Northern Island. They are within driving distances of the various thermal wonderlands, and the town itself is located by Lake Rotoroa, a great base to embark on boat/cycling journeys and the likes.

One of the thermal wonderlands we had the chance to experience was the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland. Come early in the morning, around 10 am, so you can view the Lady Knox geysers jetting her streams up high (only once a day). Wai-o-tapu is Maori for Sacred Waters, which stands for how the Maori warriors of old would bathe in these Sacred Waters for their mystical healing prowess.


This post is part of Photo Friday, a Blog Carnival held by Delicious Baby. Check them out for photo-sharing goodness, or take part in the carnival yourself.

About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. A graphic and web designer in its previous incarnation, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now, he’s settled down for the time being and focusing his efforts as the editor of an Asia travel zine, Unearthing Asia.


13 Comments on "Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland, NZ"

  1. amida on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 2:04 am 

    A Thermal Wonderland sounds both fascinating and creepy at the same time. Does the water bubble and steam? Or is it calm? I’d love to visit one someday.

  2. Tim on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 12:09 pm 

    Man those are large
    thermal pools. Much larger than I have seen. Really like the top two pictures. Sounds like a great place to visit

  3. Mara on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 12:13 pm 

    I’m glad it wasn’t too stinky there. It actually looks lovely and quite peaceful. Do people still bathe there?

  4. Wanderluster on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 2:32 pm 

    I really enjoy your photos, Nik. It’s wonderful to be exposed to this part of the world week after week!

  5. pam on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 3:24 pm 

    Clicked through from Debbie’s Photo Friday, now I wish I was there!

  6. marina villatoro on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 3:42 pm 

    I know that smell is weird, there is a similar place in upstate ny called saratoga springs. People go there from all over the country for the mineral wonder baths, but it smells!!!!! Yet you do feel great once you’ve spent the day there, stinky or not!
    Photo Friday – Dominical Beach – The True Surf Town and So Much More!

  7. Lorraine on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 4:02 pm 

    Nikolas – I’m so excited you posted these. We just visited the Thermal Wonderland over New Years, and we were all blown away by this place. The steam coming over those colorful pools was just amazing to me. But my kids could not stop talking about the smell in Rotorua – they keep referring to it as “that smelly place”. Fantastic experience though.

  8. Jessie Voigts on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 4:55 pm 

    this is so interesting – i hadn’t heard of this particular place, and now i want to go visit! thank you.

  9. Debbie Dubrow on Fri, 5th Jun 2009 6:31 pm 

    Wow, what a wild looking landscape. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish on Sat, 6th Jun 2009 1:27 am 

    Amazing spot….I can see why it is called the Thermal Wonderland. Can’t get over the different colors.

  11. Nik on Sat, 6th Jun 2009 3:09 am 

    Wow, what a response! I’m glad you folks enjoyed the photos, thanks for the kind words!

    And @amida: The water is actually calm, but there are parts where they are bubbly and steamy. And nopes, this particular place we are not able to jump into the pool ourselves, but there are other natural hot pools in Rotorua where we can do just that!

  12. Dominique on Sat, 6th Jun 2009 4:52 pm 

    And I thought the pools at Yellowstone were impressive! These really seem to dwarf Yellowstone.
    Just strengthens the idea that NZ is one of the places I really want to visit some day.

  13. Dreaming of New Zealand | Unearthing Asia on Fri, 19th Mar 2010 8:53 am 

    […] a comment As I’ve often mentioned before, New Zealand is hands down my favorite travel destination so far. It’s got great scenery, a laid-back […]

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!