Waiotapu means sacred waters in Maori and a visit to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland explains why. Located pretty much in the middle of the Taupo Volcanic area, Wai-O-Tapu is New Zealand’s most extensive active geothermal area, covering 18 square km. It was formed and shaped by volcanic activity thousands of years ago. It is one of the most frequented tourist attractions in New Zealand. It is owned and operated by a local Maori Tribal Business.
As we were pretty much driving by, we thought it was a shame to miss seeing all these natural wonders, so we decided to stop by and pay it a visit. It really was a wonderful experience and it reminded me once again, what a fascinating place our planet is. Which I think in this day and age, you can’t be reminded of too often!
I guess it comes to no surprise, that the Champagne Pool was our favourite, it’s crazy to look at it and try to understand that it is something natural that our earth has created. The magnificent and vibrant colours are caused by minerals and silicate interference. CO2 rises from the deep green of the spring, while heavy metal sulphides precipitate at the edges, which forms the orange ring around the spring. (I did take help from google to write that sentence!)
It was all very interesting and fascinating experience, perhaps the most fascinating is that there is one crater called Birds Nest Crater and birds do in fact nest there, incredible! Make sure your nose is prepared as the smell is quite bad, some places worse than others, you do get used to it after a while. One thing I must mention is that it’s very expensive ($32.50 per person) and we were considering to give it a miss, but since we didn’t want it to be a wasted day or journey so we went ahead with it. If you do decide to go, keep in mind the time of the famous Lady Knox Geyser’s eruption. We arrived in the afternoon and missed it, we were offered to come back the following day on the same ticket, but it wasn’t possible due to our planned routing.
Only a few minutes drive from Wai-O-Tapu are the big Mud Pools, the largest ones in New Zealand. This place is free and it’s well worth a visit. It’s like watching a giant pool of mud porridge!