10 Exciting Summer Activities in Wai-o-Tapu

10 Exciting Summer Activities in Wai-o-Tapu

Going to Waiotapu but don’t know what to do there? You’re on the right page if you want to fix that! 

We listed the summer activities in Waiotapu that we enjoy the most whenever visiting the area. We hope that these activities help you plan your itinerary.

1. Enjoy the beauty of Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

Enjoy the beauty of Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Image from Trip Advisor
ADDRESS201 Wai-o-Tapu Loop Road, Rotorua 3073, New Zealand
CONTACT DETAILS+64 7 366 6333
OPERATING HOURS09:30 AM to 04:30 PM (Friday to Monday)
PRICEAdult: $32.50 (16 years old and above)

Child: $11.00 (5 years old to 15 years old)

Infant: Free (4 years old and below)

Family Pass: $85.00 (2 Adults + 2 Children or 2 Adults + 3 Children)

Wai-o-Tapu is Te Reo Māori for sacred waters, a fitting name for an area with active geothermal features. The area’s geothermal condition underground is the reason for its hot springs.

Wai-o-Tapu’s Geothermal Park was created over thousands of years by volcanic activity. Today, it’s New Zealand’s most colorful geothermal attraction and one of our team’s favorite places to visit. 

There are many things to see here, like mud pools (the largest in NZ), the Lady Knox Geyser, and of course, the beautiful geothermal park. 

If you want to see the Lady Knox Geyser in particular, you should be at the park at around 10 AM to make it in time for the presentation (it’s at 10:15 AM). 

The team there will also explain how the geyser came to be, its significance, and how it works. They’ll also give you some pretty fun facts – like the fact that the Lady Knox Geyser reaches a height of up to 20 meters! 

Aside from it being a gorgeous spot, we think that it can also be a fantastic way to educate kids about geology. You can maximize the trip by asking kids to research volcanic activity, geysers, and geothermal parks before visiting the attraction.  

That being said, please take note of the following safety guidelines for your visit: 

  • Thermal pools can be extremely hot or have toxic gases or fumes. They can also form a thin crust that may look like a solid surface but is highly unstable and would break if a person attempted to stand on it. Be mindful where you step. 
  • DO NOT touch any water or go to the edge of pools. It is dangerous. 
  • DO NOT sit on, stand over, or attempt to touch steam vents. These can be very hot and cause you harm. 
  • Jandals, sandals, flip-flops, or high-heeled shoes are not recommended for the uneven terrain. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you well and cover as much of your feet as possible! 

Pro Tip: Aside from the regular guided tour option, you can also request knowledge guides to cover specific geographic, tourism, or sustainability aspects of the park in the tour to meet your kids’ or students’ learning needs.

2. Soak in Waikite’s hot pools. 

ADDRESS648 Waikite Valley Road, Waikite Valley 3077, New Zealand
CONTACT DETAILS+64 7 333 1861
OPERATING HOURS10:30 AM to 08:00 PM (Everyday)
PRICEGeneral Admission:

Adults: $22.00 (16 years old and above)

Children: $12.00 (5 years old to 15 years old)

Infant: $4.00 (Below 5 years old)

Spectators/Eco-Trail: $4.00

Family Pass: $59.00 (2 Adults + 2 Children)

Private Bathing Options:

Standard Private Pool: $28.00 per person

Spa Plus Package: $35.00 per person

Couple’s Package: $85.00 for two persons

Rotorua Local Rates:

Adults: $16.00 (16 years old and above)

Children: $10.00 (5 years old to 15 years old)

Infant: $4.00 (Below 5 years old)

Relaxing at Rotorua’s famous Waikite hot pools is a fantastic experience.  The pool water comes from the Te Manaroa natural boiling spring and is cooled before it is placed in the pools, so you get just the right temperature for a good soak. 

The water is never treated, filtered, or recycled. This gives you the full natural geothermal water experience in the comfort of the pool complex.

And in case you’re worried about it being too hot for you: the water temperature ranges from 35 to 38 degrees Celsius. This matches our normal internal body temperature, so it isn’t too hot – even our more heat-sensitive staffers found it pleasant. 

They have a lot of pools in the area, such as the Settlers Pool, Passive Bathing Pool, Tranquil Garden Pool, Pergola Pool, and even Private Spas.

  • The Settlers Pool is the original pool of the Waikite Valley Hot Pools complex. This was where settlers built a way to divert and cool the waters from Te Manaroa Spring, so it’s pretty historic. 
  • The Passive Bathing Pool is our favorite relaxing pool because of its amazing temperature and even more amazing view. The pool can be found amongst shrubbery and overlooks the Waikite Valley. 
  • The Tranquil Garden Pool has views of the Otamakokore Stream and Waikite Valley. We personally enjoy soaking here at night because of the great view of the stars and the fresh country air. 
  • The Pergola Pool is also one of our absolute favorites. The temperature in this pool reaches up to 39 degrees Celsius, which is warmer than all of the other pools in the complex – so yes, our achy breaky bones were happy in this one. 
  • Another option is to go to the Private Spas, where you can select and control your desired water temperature for your individual pool. You do have to book ahead to enjoy this, however. 

They have clean and functional changing facilities here where they have hot showers and toilets. The whole place is also wheelchair-accessible. 

Pro Tip: Be there 10 minutes before your booked time to ensure your slot.

3. Check out the Wai-o-Tapu Mud Pool. 

Check out the Wai-o-Tapu Mud Pool
Image from Paul Clayden
ADDRESSWai-o-Tapu 3073, New Zealand

The Wai-O-Tapu mud pool is another great spot to visit. What’s even better is that it doesn’t have any entrance fees. 

The nearby boardwalk allows you to see the pools from many viewpoints and yes, it’s definitely picture-worthy.  We recommend you take time to observe how the mud moves through the pool, erupts powerfully, and eventually calms down – it’s quite a sight. 

Pro Tip: Do note that the mud is highly sulphuric and might not smell pleasant. You will also not be able to swim in it because of the toxicity and high temperature, so stick to taking photos!

4. Dip in the hot Kerosene Creek. 

Dip in the hot Kerosene Creek
Image from Pure New Zealand
ADDRESSOld Wai-o-Tapu Road, Wai-o-Tapu 3073, New Zealand

Fancy a quick dip in thermal waters without burning a hole in your pocket? Then Kerosene Creek is a nice hidden spot you should add to your itinerary. 

It’s famous for its hot water stream and the beautiful native shrubs surrounding the area. This makes it the best place for a quick free dip in thermal waters. 

There is also a small waterfall near the hot water stream. You will be able to experience pure natural thermal spring water here, which we can tell you from experience feels amazing

Depending on the weather conditions, the water’s temperature ranges from tepid to hot. Swimming in these waters is known to ease body pains – so yes, it’s advisable for seniors too. 

You may also do a picnic after plunging in the water. Make sure to bring all your waste with you and clean as you go, though! 

Pro Tips: 

  • Be sure to keep your head out of the water. There’s always a risk that amoebae that like to live in hot pools are in the water, which can be dangerous. For the same reason, don’t go in if you have wounds. 
  • We also recommend bringing your valuables with you and not leaving them in your parked car.

5. Spend the night outdoors at Wai-O-Tapu Camp. 

Spend the night outdoors at Wai-O-Tapu Camp
Image from Wai-O-Tapu Camp
ADDRESSOld Wai-o-Tapu Road, Kaingaroa Forest 3073, New Zealand
CONTACT DETAILS+64 21 668 876
PRICESchool Groups:

$12.00 per person per day or night (minimum charge of $300.00 per night)

Other Groups:

$17.00 per person per day or night (minimum charge of $400.00 per night)

If you’re going to visit Wai-o-Tapu with a large group, then we highly recommend staying at the Wai-o-Tapu Camp. The area is vast, and it’s a great way to breathe fresh air and just enjoy the peace and quiet. 

Wai-O-Tapu Camp
Image from Waiotapucamp

So, you can kick back and relax here. Definitely leave your work laptop at home for the trip!

The camp also has different activity options if you’re the outdoorsy type, such as an indoor climbing wall, a grassy playing field, streams teeming with aquatic life, and many more. 

There are a lot of amenities in the area, such as a heated hall, a kitchen, and even a dining area. They also have toilet and shower blocks and a laundry room. 

The camp also has room for both cabins (6 bunk huts, single bunk hut, 2-bed hut), tents, and even campervans or motorhomes!

For us, everything is here for a successful camping trip. Be ready to make a lot of fun memories. 

Pro Tip: 

  • If you plan on cooking there, check out this list of what’s available in the kitchens so you can prepare in advance: 
  • Gas stove and oven 
  • Domestic range and electric oven 
  • Deep freezer
  • Fridge and freezer
  • Food warmer
  • Dishwasher
  • Slice toasters
  • Crockery, cutlery, pots, baking dishes, and bowls (Although you can also bring your own)

6. See the Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve.

See the Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve
Image from Pure New Zealand
ADDRESSWai-o-Tapu 3073, New Zealand

Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve is another spot we highly recommend for sightseeing. It’s an area with a geothermal mountain and lots of colored rocks. 

When you visit, you will see plants only seen in geothermal environments. We advise that you take pictures and even go the extra mile and learn about them beforehand so you can appreciate them better. 

In Te Reo Māori, the mountain’s name is Maunga Kākaramea, which means “mountain of colored earth.” Its summit is rounded, which is also known and referred to as “the owl’s perch” or Tihi-o-Rua. 

The Summit Track features a lot of native plants and even steaming rainbow-colored rocks. We recommend climbing to the top of the mountain to get a panoramic view of the Rotorua lakes, mountains, and forests.

Pro Tip: 

Just make sure to prepare for the hike. Don’t forget to bring essentials like these: 

  • Sunblock 
  • Bug spray
  • Power bank
  • Light snacks 
  • Water
  • Rain gear 

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that fit well and clothing you can easily move around in.

7. Visit a secret shallow pool in Wai-O-Tapu.

Visit a secret shallow pool in Wai-O-Tapu
Image from NZ Hot Pools
ADDRESS201 Wai-o-Tapu Loop Road, Wai-o-Tapu 3073, New Zealand

This place is a secret haven in Wai-O-Tapu. Hot ‘n’ Cold is known because it’s where hot thermal streams and cold freshwater collide.

The result of the collision of two different temperatures is a pool with the perfect temperature. We love soaking here and just blowing off some steam.  

The shallow pools are only a short distance away from the road so it’s easy to find. Hot ‘n’ Cold is great fun for the whole family or even for couples looking for a great date idea. 

Pro Tips: 

  • Again, keep your head out of the water. Amoebaa that like to live in hot pools may be in the water, so it’s best to keep safe from that. 
  • Be careful because the ground surrounding this area can be very hot.

8. Swim in Wai-O-Tapu’s Green Lake.

Swim in Wai-O-Tapu’s Green Lake
Image from NZ Hot Pools
ADDRESSRotowhero, Waikato 3073, New Zealand

Lake Rotowhero is a beautiful emerald lake that’s also warm. If you’re sensitive to scents and can’t stand Kerosene Creek, then we recommend that you go here instead to swim.

Wai-O-Tapu’s Green Lake
Image from Mapio

The green color of the lake is because of the algae in its water. 

Pro Tip: 

  • There are certain spots that are much hotter, so make sure to find the best spot for you depending on your preference.

9.  Camp in Lake Okaro Campsite

ADDRESS699/859 Okaro Road, Whakarewarewa, Waimangu 3073, New Zealand
CONTACT DETAILS+64 7 348 4199
PRICEAdult: $8.00

Child: $4.00

Infant: Free

Lake Okaro is an important treasure to the local tribes Ngati Whaoa and Ngati Tahu. They consider this lake their treasure – and once you see it, it’s easy to understand why. 

We love going here to observe, appreciate the lake, and just be one with nature. It’s a great break from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

You can also experience the beauty of the lake by camping near it! It has a lot of facilities available such as public toilets, barbeques, picnic tables, a ski lane, and a boat ramp. 

Pro Tip: 

  • We don’t suggest bathing here, however. It’s best for fishing and waterskiing instead. 

10. Experience the world’s youngest geothermal system.

ADDRESS587 Waimangu Road, Rotorua 3073, New Zealand
CONTACT DETAILS+64 7 366 6137
OPERATING HOURS08:30 AM to 05:00 PM (Everyday)
PRICEFull Waimangu Experience:

Adults: $89.00 (17 years old and above)

Children: $30.00 (6 years old to 16 years old)

Family: $215.00 (2 adults & 3 children)

Self-Guided Walk:

Adults: $44.00 (17 years old and above)

Children: $15.00 (6 years old to 16 years old)

Family: $100.00 (2 adults & 3 children)

Waimangu means “Black Water” in Te Reo Māori because of the geyser that was present over a hundred years ago. This geyser erupted with heights up to 400 meters, which is as high as the Empire State Building. 

The place is home to the Pink and White Terraces, considered one of the world’s natural wonders. This is a true wonderland where you can experience and see fantastic volcanic craters, enormous hot water springs, and different geothermal features.

Pro Tip: 

  • It’s a great place to bring kids for an educational yet entertaining field trip, we suppose. They can learn about science and history from the guides.

We hope this list helped you plan your vacation better. If you’re a local or have been here as well, let us know if you have other secret spots you would want to share. 

By the way, here are some other fun summer activities in New Zealand: