Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is a geothermal park close to Rotorua. It’s one of the best ways to experience the extraordinary geothermal activity which the region surrounding Rotorua is most famous for. Read on to find out why it was one of my favourite places to visit in New Zealand.
- Entrance fee:
- Adult: $32.50 NZD
- Child: $11.00 NZD
- Families (2 adults + up to 3 children): $80.00 NZD
- Opening hours:
- April to October 8:30am – 5:00pm
- November to March: 8:30am – 6:00pm
- Wheelchair accessibility:
- 3 disabled parking spaces
- Access to gift shop and cafe
- The first of the three sections is wheelchair accessible
How to get to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland
- Drive yourself:
- From Rotorua, follow the Thermal Explorer Highway (SH 5) towards Taupo for about 20 minutes. Turn left at the Waiotapu Tavern and follow the road for about 2 km.
- From Taupo, follow the SH 5 for about 40 minutes. Turn right at the sign post and follow the road for about 1 km.
- There’s a great shuttle service from Rotorua that will pick you up either at your accommodation or at the I-Site.
- They leave twice a day, at 8:45am and at 12:30pm.
- The tour leaving at 8:45am includes a visit to the Lady Knox Geysir that erupts every day at 10.15am.
- Morning tour costs $79 NZD for adults and $40 NZD for kids, afternoon tour costs $69 NZD for adults and $35 NZD for kids (entrance fee included)
- The shuttle will pick you up at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland after roughly two hours which is just about enough time to see the entire park.
The highlights of the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland: a visual walk-through
The first loop of the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is the most spectacular one. So, even though section 1 is the only part that’s accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, you won’t miss out on the main attractions. You’ll be treated to colorful pools, steaming lakes and bubbling mud pools.
The second loop is mainly just the connection between section 1 and section 3. It’s a nice walk through a forrest with two lookouts that offer a great view of section 3.
Sulphur is the dominant mineral on the third loop, rather noticeable by its distinct smell of rotten eggs. Some of the highlights in this section include sulphur pools, caves and mounds.
What else is there to do?
A trip to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland will only take you half a day. You can easily combine it with another activity in and around Rotorua. Geysir Link Shuttles offers a variety of combo tickets that include a visit to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and some of the activities mentioned bellow.
- Hobbiton: Visit the home of Frodo and his hobbit friends. The original film set is a must for every Lord of the Rings fan. Entry to Hobbiton includes a guided tour that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Shire.
- White water rafting: Raft the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world! The 25-foot waterfall is part of the Kaituna River and an unforgetable experience for all you adrenaline junkies out there.
- Kurai Park: If you hadn’t had enough of geothermal activity yet, you can stroll through the Kurai Park in the centre of Rotorua. The park showcases a number of hot pools and bubbling mood pools. This is also a great option if you’re on a budget because the entry is free of charge. It might not be as spectacular as Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, but it’s a great alternative.
- Zorb: Have you always dreamt of rolling down a hill stuck in a giant plastic bubble? Then you should check out Zorb Rotorua. Probably one of the most ridiculous and fun activities in New Zealand.
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