Rotorua is a town near Lake Rotorua and is renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture and you know when you’ve reached Rotorua as the air in the town smells very sulphurous.
The geothermal activity in Rotorua means there is no lack of thermal pools. The natural hot springs merge with cold rivers or streams, creating clouds of steam and making areas of the river or stream the ideal temperature to swim or bathe in.
As we were only overnighting in Rotorua (on our way from Gisborne to Auckland), we only had one afternoon to explore and we had chosen to go to the Buried Village of Te Wairoa yesterday and the Polynesian Spa afterwards, before heading out for a late dinner at Che Chorizo, so we didn’t have time to visit Te Puia and see the Pōhutu Geyser, although we did drive past Te Puia and got to see the top of the steam plume when our GPS decided to take us in the totally wrong direction while we were trying to get to the Buried Village!
Pōhutu (‘poor-hoo-too’) means ‘constant splashing’ in Māori and this geyser is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere, erupting once or twice every hour, sometimes reaching heights of 30 metres (100 feet).
On our way to Te Wairoa, I did see a road that looked like it had access to a public reserve and possibly looked out over Te Puia. We went to have a look before leaving for Auckland and it does look out over the reserve that Te Puia is situated in. Right along the edge of the reserve, near the road was a stream that was fenced off with warning signs saying “Do not enter” and “Danger, hot water”, as a hot spring enters the stream at a large, natural pool and the water in this pool was actually bubbling. I’m not sure if the bubbles were just natural gasses being released (the whole area had a strong stench of sulphur) or if it was a combination of gasses and really hot water! Further down, along the banks of the stream were cracks in the earth where steam was escaping and even bubbling mud pools!
If you plan on visiting Rotorua, don’t get caught like we did and end up with too many activities to choose from and not enough time to fit it all in. Do some research, decide on what you really want to see and plan a route, so that you can get as much sightseeing done during your visit as possible.
If you don’t want to spend money visiting the hot pools at a Spa or tourist destination, I discovered once we had gotten back to Auckland that there are quite a few free natural hot pools in Rotorua. Visit these websites for more info: