Rotorua hot springs and geothermal experiences

by | Dec 8, 2021 | Rotorua

One of the most famous Rotorua activities to do is visit the Rotorua hot springs and geothermal sites sprinkled throughout the area. There are a handful of paid parks you can visit, as well as some pretty impressive spots that are free to see and experience – woohoo!

Check out our top 5 Rotorua hot springs and geothermal sites:

  1. Waiotapu Loop Road
  2. Polynesian Spa Rotorua hot springs
  3. Waimangu Volcanic Valley
  4. Kuirau Park
  5. Waikete Valley Rotorua Hot Springs

1. Waiotapu Loop Road

One of the most underrated spots is the large mud pool located on Waiotapu Loop Road, just off State Highway 5, around 25 minutes south of Rotorua. Understatedly located by a road sign that just says ‘Mud Pool’, it is found just before you reach Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. It’s a pretty decent sized pool with easily accessible boardwalks and you can get very close to the mesmerizing mud as it bubbles and splutters. There’s also a view point you can get to by a one-minute dirt track. On a cool day, the place is as steamy as a sauna and quite an eerie experience.

2. Polynesian Spa Rotorua hot springs

On of the most luxurious Rotorua hot springs is the Polynesian Spa. Unwind in the outdoor spa among the New Zealand flora or enjoy the outdoor adults pool that overlooks stunning Lake Rotorua.

The Polynesia Spa is known for its healing waters which people have been visiting since the 1800s. Two natural springs are fed into the 28 mineral pools. The slightly acidic Priest Spring relieves tired muscles, aches and pains while the alkaline waters of the Rachel Spring nourish skin.

Polynesian Spa thermal pools rotorua
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Photo: Best way to end a long day is with a hot soak at Polynesian Spa. Credit: Polynesian Spa

3. Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Just a bit further down State Highway 5 is Waimangu Volcanic Valley – the world’s youngest eco-system and a mecca for birdlife, unusual plants and enough thermal action to keep you heated up for days. Frying Pan Lake near the beginning of the walk is sensational and more than a little hypnotic as you watch the steam play on the surface of the hot water lake. Don’t stop here though as there is something new around every corner ending with an optional boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana. Here’s a tip though which most people miss in their hurry to catch the shuttle bus back to the top –walk the track back through the wetland area. This is one of the best bits and there is plenty of seating to take a load off and enjoy the feeling of seclusion from the world.

Waimangu charges a fee to enter but it’s well worth the investment. Take your camera along as this place is magical. Before you visit, download their free app which utilises augmented reality. You can overlay todays landscape with what the area used to look like back in the day. It’s pretty cool! Plus, you can access the hidden content on there and find out more secrets about the valley.

waimangu volcanic valley
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Photo: Rotorua’s Waimangu Volcanic Valley is well worth the visit!

4. Kuirau Park

Amongst the best geothermal Rotorua activities, you shouldn’t miss Kuirau Park.

Bordered by Pukuatua and Ranolf Streets, this free park is great value with a gentle garden walk taking you through steamy wetland areas and around bubbling mud pools. Don’t walk past the man-made shallow pool with the timber seating and picnic tables – whip your shoes and socks of and bathe those beauties in the thermal mineral water. You’ll feel like a new person afterwards! There’s an added bonus here for families – an awesome playground and plenty of wide paths to race scooters, strollers and bikes along. A lot of the paths are also wheelchair accessible.

Kuirau Park Rotorua hot springs
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Photo: Kuirau Park Rotorua is a free geothermal park you can experience at the heart of central Rotorua. Credit: www.newzealand.com

5. Waikete Valley Rotorua Hot Springs

The Waikete Valley Thermal Rotorua Hot Springs are the ultimate natural hot spring wonderland and one of the top Rotorua attractions. The springs are nestled amongst native flora and fauna and farmland; you feel like it’s just you and nature. The best thing about this place is that the water that feeds these Rotorua hot springs is 100% natural and comes from a boiling spring. Whether you’re looking to spend some relaxation time, with your partner or friends, or even the whole family – this place has you covered. There are plenty of pools to choose from that will fit any mood. There’s a family pool, private spas, garden pools, and even recycled hot tubs that used to be cow troughs! This place is a perfect example of how Rotorua hot springs should be.

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