Geothermal Features in the Bay of Plenty
Geothermal surface features provide a tangible example of the
amazing processes occurring underneath our feet. Surface features
include geysers, mud pools, or hot ground. We are very fortunate in
the Bay of Plenty that we have so many surface features, and so
many types of surface features - they are an increasingly rare
occurrence all over the world.
Because surface features are so rare, it is important we enjoy
them and protect them for the future.
Great Geothermal Surface Features to Visit
Pohutu Geyser (Rotorua)
Located within the Whakarewarewa reserve, at Te Puhia off Sala
Street, Pohutu Geyser is one of the very few geysers still active
today. Many other geysers have been destroyed by development or
have ceased naturally. Pohutu Geyser plays 2-3 times an hour.
Pohutu Geyser has been one of the key features of Rotorua for
many years, and it is a little known fact that when Fenton Road was
originally built it was angled to provide an optimal view of Pohutu
all the way to the lake edge, unfortunately vegetation growth and
property development have since obscured this view.
Whakarewarewa Village (Rotorua)
The access to Whakarewarewa village is off Tryon Street, but the
easiest way in is to turn in past the BP on Sala Street, and then
take the first right which leads you to the carpark. The gateway to
the village is the historic bridge and if you're fortunate you
might even see some modern Penny-divers jumping from the bridge
into the Puarenga Stream below - you'll be impressed at the
Whakarewarewa village is permanently inhabited, and you will
wander past people's homes as you enjoy the sites the village has
to offer. The geothermal features are dynamic and impressive, and
the village provides a unique view into the idea of life within a
geothermal surface feature.
Apart from the geothermal surface features, the other drawcard to
the village is the food. Delicious hangi pies and corn
traditionally cooked in a geothermal cookbox and served piping
There is also a very pleasant lake walk that takes in some very
representative geothermal vegetation types.
Sulphur Bay (Rotorua)
Sulphur Bay is somewhat hidden and often over looked, tucked
away behind the Energy Events Centre and Government Gardens, the
Bay is where the geothermally influenced Puarenga Stream enters
Lake Rotorua, this area also has some of its own geothermal
springs. Easiest access is to go to Government Gardens, down Queens
Drive, past the Museum, and then past the impressive Energy Events
Centre, round the back and you should be able to get some good
views out across the Bay.
The warm, shallow water of Sulphur Bay makes it very popular
with the local birdlife, and you will often see the little rocky
islands absolutely packed with water birds. This is a must-see
sight for bird lovers.
The water is also an interesting colour as the geothermal minerals
start to settle out and mix with the lake water. The other great
way to see the Bay is to land at Rotorua airport on a nice day, the
geothermal plume is an impressive sight.
Ohinemutu village is nestled between the Hospital Hill and the
lake, and the area has a unique feel about it. Vehicles
should park at the top of the hill (access off Lake Road).
Once you get down to the village you can see just how central
the geothermal surface features are to every aspect of life, there
are cook boxes and vents, and hot streams that trickle down to the
lake. This is one of the most dynamic areas in Rotorua, the
geothermal fluid is so close to the surface that you can never be
sure what you will see, so watch your step.
It is also important to note that the people of Ohinemutu have
always welcomed visitors to freely visit their area, but would
appreciate it if you respected the privacy of their properties.
Most visitors to the village also stop by St Faith's Anglican
church - a beautiful church, famous for it's architectural union of
European and Maori styles. Postcards are a must though, as no
photos are allowed to be taken inside the church.
Kuirau Park (Rotorua)
This is one of the best places to visit for free, with plenty of
facilities for the whole family, and maintained by Rotorua District
Council. There are several convenient carparks to access Kuirau
Park, these can be accessed from Pukuatua Street and Ranolf
Kuirau Park's greatest feature is Lake Kuirau, a large
geothermally active lake - there is a pleasant walk around the lake
(probably a 10-15 minute stroll) with information boards about the
lake and the vegetation. There are some great examples of petrified
wood. There are two other smaller lakes in the park as well.
There are also free foot baths about 40cm deep, two covered and
one open air, all about 40 °C, and it can be lovely to go there,
pull off your shoes and soak your feet. These pools are cleaned out
daily by Rotorua District Council Reserve Staff. One of these is
very near the children's play area and offers a lovely view across
Lake Timaru. The other two pools are better accessed off Ranolf
Street and are near a children's splash pond (only filled during
summer months), and the sensory garden.
The park has many different types of geothermal surface
features, including a plopping mud pool, and is a very pleasant
area to explore at a stroll. As with any geothermally active site,
please stick to the paths and avoid areas where the ground is
steaming - this is particularly important for Kuirau Park where
most of the features are 70-95 °C.
Waitangi Soda Springs (Rotoehu)
The Soda Springs are something of a hidden treasure, located off
Manawahe Road (if you're driving Rotorua to Whakatane this is the
road to the left just before you go into the trees that leads to
Rotoma), they have recently been redeveloped for use. Unusually
this is a run-of-the-river site, with a weir creating a a pooling
area where you can bathe.
The site is supplied by both hot and cold springs, making the
temperature just right for bathing. They are a bit of a drive, but
the springs are said to be very therapeutic.