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Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland: One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World


Nothing compares to nature’s craftsmanship. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotorua, New Zealand is probably one of the best places to witness the earth as an artist at work. Vividly coloured hot springs, mud pools and geysers brought about by volcanic activity thousands of years ago, the geothermal wonders in Wai-O-Tapu are truly a sight to behold. No wonder it is included in TripAdvisor’s list of 20 Most Surreal Places in the World.

There are various features in Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, each with its own distinct character. Make time to explore them all.

Geothermal Area

A walk along the different geothermal attractions was like being part of an art attack. The intense splash of colour and various textures of the geothermal attractions are simply breath-taking (sulphur smell aside). The unique volcanic landscape is cast beautifully amongst lush trees, and walkways are strategically placed for the different trails in this area. There are a three series of walks ranging from 30 to 75 minutes along different unique areas. Here are some of my favourite spots:

Artist’s Palette

The Artist’s Palette is one of the massive geothermal areas that caught my eye. The colours of the mineral laden water, which originally came from the Champagne pool, range from blue, yellow, orange, green and grey. It’s simply a work of art.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Rotorua New Zealand Artist's Palette

Champagne Pool

Hot steam welcomes you  as you come close to witness the charming colours of this hot spring. The Champagne Pool is one of the popular attractions in the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, and probably the most beautiful. I have never seen anything like it and it’s something I will never forget. Cheers to this masterpiece!

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Rotorua New Zealand Champagne Pool 2

Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland rotorua new zealand gia jon

Devil’s Bath

Neon yellow? As if the earlier greens, oranges and blues weren’t vivid enough, the Devil’s bath hits your eyes with a streak of bright yellow green. It’s certainly one of the highlights of the geothermal walk.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Rotorua New Zealand Devil's Bath

Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland rotorua new zealand gia devil's bath

Lake Ngakoro

Right at the very end of the third track is a small waterfall and the volcanic lake, Lake Ngakoro. Here you can witness the beauty of nature that surrounds this interesting volcanic landscape.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Rotorua New Zealand Lake Ngakoro

Lady Knox Geyser

Who wouldn’t want to see a geyser erupt? Jon and I had to change our plans for transportation (I had to drive a car in New Zealand) in order to witness this interesting phenomenon, which starts at 10:15am each day. Along with a crowd of spectators, we witnessed a presentation which showed the history and mechanics of the Lady Knox Geyser. It was an impressive display that shouldn’t be missed.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Rotorua New Zealand Lady Knox Geyser

Here’s a short clip of the Lady Knox Geyser eruption:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9JHoQc4dE]

Mud Pools

It’s not over yet. Just before you leave the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, head to the Mud Pools, the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920’s.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Rotorua New Zealand Mud Pools

Jon and I had a great time exploring the interesting landscape and colourful natural wonders in Wai-O-Tapu. The sulfur smell of this geothermal paradise may have faded but its unique beauty will remain in our memories. If you happpen to be visiting the North Island of New Zealand, you should definitely go to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and see this surreal place!

Check out Jon’s post, “Crazy Driving and Psychedelic Scenery in Rotorua, New Zealand” for other activities we did in Rotorua.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Disclaimer: We were hosted by Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Location: 201 Waiotapu Loop Road RD 3, Rotorua 3073 New Zealand
Tel: (07) 366 6333
Email: info@waiotapu.co.nz

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Map
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Have you been to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland or a similar geothermal site? Let us know.

About the author

Gia Kristel Algie

Currently based in New Zealand, Gia grew up in Manila, lived in Singapore for three years and travelled the world for nearly two years. From watching sunsets to hiking mountains, she loves the outdoors. She enjoys living in big cities but takes pleasure staying in quaint, small towns. An aspiring photographer and budding writer, she is the voice behind Mismatched Passports, a travel blog dedicated to the journey around the world with her husband, Jon.

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