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Tourist Places To Visit In Rotorua
Rotorua is an important city in the northern island of New Zealand. It is known best for its Maori settlements and energetic geothermal activities. For the longest time, the hot mineral water has attracted tourists from all over the world and this number has only increased in recent years. There a number of remarkable tourist places to visit in Rotorua like the colourful Wai-O-Tapu or the surreal Hell’s Gate that will leave you completely mesmerised by this mysterious land.
The 19th-century building that houses the museum has had a long and interesting history. It started out as a bathhouse and spa in the late 1800s and was a popular attraction among European tourists because of the healing properties of the water. Post-World War the building served many purposes before the government finally converted it into the remarkable museum that it is today.
The museum has an interactive model and they often screen documentaries that are relevant to Rotorua’s history. They have done extensive studies into the early inhabitants of Rotorua, the Arawa Tribe; and a screening of Te Arawa completes the event. Besides the artefacts on display, the museum is also known for its classic colonial-era architecture and its lavish and well-maintained lawns and for the astonishing view of Rotorua and its lake from the rooftop.
The centre of Rotorua’s geothermal activities is at Wai O Tapu in the form of surreally colourful geysers, hot springs and volcanic craters. Be warned, the smell of molten minerals can take some time to get used to, yet the beauty of the place more than makes up for it. The trail around the many springs is well organised and they wind around all the major pools. Champagne Pool is one of the first in the trail and the most iconic pool with its steaming water of varying colours. Then there is Lady Knox Geyser known for erupting so violently that it sprays water to a height of 20 m. Artists Pallete and Mud Pool are other attractions at the park.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
The Volcanic activity of 1886 changed the landscape of Waimangu so drastically that is an important event in the history of Rotorua. The fact that the eruption was so recent makes it the youngest geothermal system. Before the activity the region was home to beautiful pink and white terraces (a picture of it can be found at the museum). The eruption created a large valley and buried the terraces in whole. Today the system encompasses Lake Rotomahana, Waimangu Geyser, Frying Pan Lake and Inferno Crater Lake. The hot water has, over the years, shaped the fauna and flora of the place with heat-loving species, making the trail feel very surreal. The colourful microbes add to the surreal nature of the place.
At the centre of the events of 1886 was Mount Tarawera, the volcanic mountain that erupted to change the landscape of Waimangu forever. A guided hike to the volcanic craters left behind displays the magnitude of the disaster and is very popular among tourists for the same reason. The eruption is said to have taken place on three peaks creating craters, rifts and later on lakes. The hike begins at the lake and continues until the summit. From there you can climb down the crater which is over 6 km in radius! The guides explain in detail the events of the night the volcano erupted and how it changed the landscape. It is one of the best recorded volcanic activities in human history and thus is of great interest and importance.
Te Puia is the best place to be in if you were hoping to understand Maori traditions and their culture. Lying in the heart of Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley and home to the national bird kiwi and natural splendours like the Pohutu Geyser, Te Puia is a must visit. The geyser is said to erupt at least 20 times a day and often reaches a height of about 30 meters. A number of hot water springs and bubbling mud pools can also be seen. Here you can witness the architecture that has stood the test of time in structures like the Rotowhio Marae or more contemporary integrations like in Heketanga-a-Rangi. They also host a number of events that include cultural performances and talks on ancient Maori wisdom.
Also known as Hell’s Gate, Tikitere is a reserve park that holds witness to some extraordinary geothermal activity, so much so that it has one of the largest hot water waterfalls on the planet. The park offers guided walks that explore the steaming landscapes. They also offer mud baths and sulphur spa services. The walks are wound around sites like Kahaki Falls, Mud Volcano, Sulphur Lake, Cooking Pool and Steaming Cliffs. Besides the nature tour, they also have a carving centre where you can learn about the techniques they use for carving and even learn some basic techniques yourself.
In the middle of Lake Rotorua is the sacred island of Mokoia. It was formed due to an eruption at the bottom of the lake and over the years has become inhabited by many indigenous birds. Since many of them are endangered, a great amount of care goes into maintaining this place. Visitors are allowed during the day and the tours are always guided. The guides are well informed and will describe the island's geographic, historic and cultural significance. The island is at the centre of one of the most popular Maori folklores; the one about Hinemoa and her swim across the lake to the island to unite with her lover Tutanekai. You will surely hear versions of the story and the song commemorating her epic swim.