Back to New Zealand     Continue to Rotorua

Wai-O-Tapu Entrance
Wai-O-Tapu Entrance

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a thermal area located about 17 miles (27 km.) south of Rotorua.  It has the highest concentration of surface thermal features in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which (for you geology enthusiasts) exists because of the collision between the Indian-Australian and Pacific Plates.  To the visitor all of this translates to an area of hot springs, geysers, terraces and smoking craters, much of it colorful due to the mineral content and all of it rather stinky.  Much of North Island is geologically active, with numerous extinct, dormant and active volcanoes (there have been minor eruptions as recently as 2007) in addition to the hot springs and other more benign features.  A genuine North Island volcano, Mt. Ngauruhoe, served as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Most of the Wai-O-Tapu features are reached via trails that start from the visitor center, located a few kilometers off the main highway.  On the way to the visitor center from the highway are two other attractions, a mud pool and the Lady Knox Geyser. 

Beginning of Lady Knox Eruption
Lady Knox Eruption (WMV Video, 18.1 MB)
Connie and Nella with Lady Knox Geyser
Connie and Nella with Lady Knox

The Lady Knox Geyser erupts daily at 10:15 AM.  Those familiar with geysers might be skeptical that a geyser would be so punctual, but this one has assistance in the form of a bag of powdered soap that is emptied on schedule into it every day as part of a presentation.  Apparently the soap breaks surface tension within the geyser, thereby prompting an eruption in short order.  Those wishing to view the presentation need to arrive early, as it is necessary to purchase admission tickets at the visitor center first and then backtrack to the geyser, which has its own parking area.

More Photos:

Entrance to Lady Knox Geyser
Entrance to Lady Knox Geyser
Presenter and Inactive Lady Knox Geyser
Presenter and Inactive Geyser
Presenter After Dropping in Soap
Presenter After Dropping in Soap
Erupting Geyser
Erupting Geyser
Area Map
Area Map
View from Craters Area
View from Craters Area
Champagne Pool from Artists Palette Viewpoint
Champagne Pool from Artists Palette Viewpoint
Champagne Pool Video
Champagne Pool (WMV Video, 2.7 MB)
Connie and Nella on Boardwalk
Connie and Nella on Boardwalk
Connie and Alum Cliffs
Connie and Alum Cliffs
Oyster Pool
Oyster Pool
Forested Area Along Trail
Forested Area Along Trail
Connie and Nella near Champagne Pool
Connie and Nella near Champagne Pool
Champagne Pool
Champagne Pool
Steaming Crater
Steaming Crater
Devil's Bath
Devil's Bath

Continue to Rotorua     Back to New Zealand