If you visit New Zealand it’s almost criminal if you don’t experience the Geothermal wonders this beautiful country has to offer and the home of geothermal activity is Rotorua. Bubbling mud pools, a thick smell of sulphur in the air, Geysers shooting up in the sky and some of the most out of this world landscapes you could ever imagine.
While we were in Rotorua we visited two Geothermal ‘theme’ parks Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and Te Puia. I’ve previously posted about Waiotapu and you can find it here. I’m glad we made it to both of them as they had such different offerings.
Te Puia was slightly different to Waiotapu as it had not only a greater number of geysers but more active geysers. It was also hugely informative about New Zealand’s Maori culture, architecture and even had some Kiwi Birds so you had the chance to get up close to the native wildlife.
What you need to see while you are there..
This was the first geyser we saw on our trip and it was truly spectacular. The natural world really is so intriguing sometimes. It is also the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and can erupt up to at least 2 times every hour. You would have to be really unlucky to go and see it and not see it erupt. Fun fact its name means ‘constant splashing’ which is exactly what it does. Whether you are up close or standing on a platform on the other side of the park the plume of water and steam really does make you stop and watch.
Te Tohu geyser
Te Tohu is located next to Pohutu and erupts just before Pohutu does. Another name for this geyser is Prince of Wales Feather as its plume was said to resemble the Prince’s coat of arms. Seeing the two geysers going off is a glorious sight. They are said to only erupt for a few minutes at a time but due to the frequency of their eruptions, it feels like they have a continuous plume of water and steam.
There is at least two dormant geyser at the park. Papakura and Te Horu. They both used to erupt frequently however they have been considered dormant now since the 70’s. There are signposted showing where you can see them and maybe they will spring back to life in the future. Te Horu has been said to be bubbling at the moment but eruptions so far.
This is a cooking pool which they still use to this day. In the past, these types of pools would be used for not only cooking but also washing and bathing. I’m guessing it is like an ancient hot tub but I’m pretty sure the water would be a whole lot hotter than a modern day hot tub. Just imagine the wrinkles if you stayed in too long! At Te Puia, you can sample this unique cooking experience along with another traditional Maori cooking style called a hangi. The Hangi is a large pit in the earth with the hot rocks placed at the bottom. The geothermal heat in both of these methods cooks the meat and infuses the food with a unique flavour and how often can you say you’ve eaten food cooked by geothermal heat.
See a Kiwi up close
Disappointingly we didn’t get to see a kiwi in the flesh as they were all either sleeping or hiding when we were visiting. However, we did buy a soft toy Kiwi if that counts. They have a big enclosure with natural trees and plants for the Kiwis to feel at home. The kiwi egg is also HUGE! So was really interesting to see one of these on display. It would have been amazing to have seen one but as we didn’t it’s another reason for us to return to NZ one day soon.
Maori Buildings and Carvings
There are lots of traditional Maori buildings on the site in the Pikirangi Village for you to walk around, go into and explore. Being able to touch the building and see the materials used, and the intricate carving was a real insight into the past. Such pride was taken in decorating these buildings and it’s such a different style of building from what I’ve seen before.
Along with this village of the past, there is also more modern buildings which are used for concerts and gatherings. We did get to see a performance which was fascinating to watch. At first, I thought they were doing the haka but I think it may have been a slightly different welcome call. Either way, it was amazing to watch!
There is also lots of carved statues and artwork dotted around the park. Like the house’s they are carved with such amazing detail.
We went into the park on a standard day ticket and spent a day marvelling at this interesting place. There is also a whole host of different experience options that you could opt for both during the day and in the evening. One of these experiences includes a meal cooked within a Hangi and hot pool. It was easy to walk around on your own (without a tour guide) and the points of interest within the park are all signposted with information. It is a big park so expect to do a lot of walking and whilst the paths are all easily accessible it’s sensible to wear decent shoes.
We loved visiting this place and couldn’t recommend it enough if you are visiting New Zealand. The insight into Maori history, the dramatic landscapes and captivating geysers is something we would never have been able to see anywhere else and is so far removed from the green fields of our home in Britain and the dry paddocks of our Australian home.
It really will leave you in awe of the natural world.
To find more information on Te Puia you can find details here http://www.tepuia.com/
If you wanted to see some of our other posts from New Zealand the click away below
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