New Zealand - Wai-o-tapu Geothermal Wonderland

On our way back north, we stopped in at Rotorua to see the mud pools. We'd missed it on the way down and now that we had a day to spare we doubled back to go have a look-see.

So, remember when I said that Rotorua smells? Like terrible rotten egg? We pretty much went to the source. Wai-o-tapu is a pretty active geothermal area, just a bit north of the Reporoa caldera, in the Taupo Volcanic Zone. (Yes, apparently there are volcanic zones, of which some are active. How cool is that?) Anyway, I knew there were a whole bunch of boiling mud pools, I just wasn't prepared for how MANY there were. It's 3km wander around the pools and out to the caldera. Woah buddy.

At the heart of it, you stick to this track which goes by all the attractions (mainly: pools of mud). Each has a number so you can follow along on your map. You wander by the hot bubbling pools as you go. Sometimes theres a fence, sometimes it's just a path.

It's an okay walk, but after the devils ink pots (small little deep holes with little patches of bubbling mud) and the "don't leave the path - boiling sulfur" signs there are two main stars. One is the Champagne Pool which is very very pretty. Blue, clear ... I want to say water, but I'm not sure that it is. It's ringed by rusty red deposits, and has steam rising off it in clouds... it's very hot, cooling on the surface at a balmy 73 °C. Also, it bubbles, which is why it's called the Champagne Pool.

The other was the Devils Cave, which was basically a pool of neon green fluid. Violently neon. Apparently it was sulfur.

Anyway, if you're out that way and are interested in geological things it's a lovely (and relatively easy) walk with lots of things (read: mud) to see. If you wanted to skip it, no worries, I've got you covered with a bajillion photos:

First up: The Devil Ink pots

Teeny Tiny Terraces

The Oyster Pool

The Artists Palette

Champagne Pool

Devils Cave

Tickets are $32.50 NZD. Spensive, but if mud is your thing, or you're on a volcanic kick it might be worth the price tag. I didn't regret it in the slightest (I say that, but I'm earning pounds and was on holiday... impulse buys all round).

Worth a look in, I'd say, but don't go out of your way to visit.