Geothermal New Zealand | A Complete Guide
New Zealand’s South Island is characterised by its mountains, rivers and lakes whereas the North Island is a geothermal wonderland of volcanoes, caves and beaches. Rotorua is the heart of geothermal New Zealand; head to Rotorua Geothermal Park to see the New Zealand geysers. You’ll know you’ve arrived when the smell of the sulfur-rich air hits you. We take you to explore this otherworldly area on our Sweet North tour. This guide to geothermal New Zealand will tell you about all of the must-see sites of Rotorua.
Fun facts about geothermal New Zealand
- Rotorua’s nickname is Sulfur City. You’ll soon see why when you enter this geothermal wonderland!
- A third of Rotorua’s population is Maori. This is the highest proportion of any city in New Zealand. Te Arawa is the confederation of Māori iwi (tribes) of this area.
- Te Puia is home to the most reliable geyser on earth, Pōhutu, which erupts about 20 times a day. It is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere and can reach a height of 30 metres (100 feet).
- Rotorua is part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Over two million years old and still highly active, the volcanic area takes in the area from the Bay of Plenty to Mt Ruapehu.
Best hikes to do in Rotorua Geothermal Park
Wander amongst New Zealand geysers on one of these incredible walks.
Maximise your geothermal experience with a walk to Sulfur Point. Located on the outskirts of downtown Rotorua, you’ll be immersed in an otherworldly landscape. As you walk along the boardwalk, you’ll see steaming vents and mud pools. The walk will take up to 2 hours to reach Motutara Point (Sulphur Bay).
Redwood Memorial Grove Track
This 1 hour walk takes you through the magnificent giants of the Whakarewarewa Forest, the redwoods. The California native trees stand at 236m tall. Lose yourself gazing into the crystal clear water of the Dead Tree Swamp and gazing upwards at the towering trees. You’ll get to enjoy this walk on your Sweet North tour.
Things to do in Rotorua
Visit Te Puia
A visit to Te Puia is a must if you are visiting Rotorua. There you’ll see Pōhutu, the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere, Purapurawhetu mud pool and the geothermal hot pool Ngāraratuatara. You can also embrace Maori culture in Te Puia by enjoying a traditional hāngi feast, whereby the food is cooked in a large pit dug into the ground and heated by hot rocks. You can also see a cultural performance where stories of the past are beautifully told through song and dance.
Go on a jade discovery tour
In Rotorua, you can enjoy a free guided tour of one of the workshops which carves pounamu (jade) by hand. You’ll learn the rich history of the precious material and the influences behind the designs.
Enjoy endless activities
For those who love a thrill, Rotorua has many options to sate your appetite for adrenaline. There’s a wake park, mountain biking park and high ropes course. You can see the geothermal wonderland from the air on a scenic heli-flight or from the water on a jetboat. If you prefer to unwind, there’s the thermal spa.
Best time to visit Rotorua
Rotorua enjoys a warm, temperate climate and is a spectacular spot to visit year round. However, like all of New Zealand, the peak season runs from late spring until early autumn (October to April). In summer, temperatures range between 21°C – 29°C and in winter temperatures can drop to between 9°C – 16°C.
Visiting geothermal New Zealand with New Zealand Trails
On your Sweet North tour, you’ll spend some time soaking up the rich culture of Rotorua and its geothermal wonderland. You’ll spend an evening enjoying Māori culture and experiencing the Maori values of manaakitanga (hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) before being treated to a hāngi feast cooked in the traditional way. You’ll spend the night on the shore of Lake Rotorua before setting foot in the ‘land of lakes’ the following morning. You'll see the bubbling mud pools, spewing geysers and rising steam that gives Rotorua its otherworldly quality. Before heading off to our next destination, we’ll stop by the Whakarewarewa Forest to see the majestic redwoods.
If you want to find out more about the incredible 5-14 day hiking tours we run in New Zealand, you can request a free copy of our brochure here.