The area around Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand has a lot to offer. Most visitors want to experience the volcanic activity. There are several different opportunites to see hot springs, geysers and other geothermal activities. The most poular places to experience those attractions are Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. We took a closer look at both of them and can help you decide where to go! Waimangu or Wai-O-Tapu? Here is our opinion:
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is about 25 minutes away from Rotorua. The admission is 37 Dollar (January 2017) and inculedes a self-guided hike down the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and a free busride back to the entrance. You can also do a boat tour on lake Rotomahana for an aditional $ 42,50. We just did the hike and it took as two hours to get to the end of the trail at lake Rotomahana. There is an trail and a more advanced one. We took the more advanced Mt. Haszard Trail, which offers better views!
Waimangu Volcanic Valley highlights
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Waiotapu is also about 25 minutes south of Rotorua. The Lady Knox geyser is probably the most famous attraction of Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. They say it’s the most punctual geyser in the world. It errupts at exatly 10:15 AM every day. But there is a good reason for that: They pour washing powder in it in order to get it going! Nevertheless it’s a good show and fund to watch. Definitely a must see for everyone that hasn’t seen a geyser erupt before. If you wan’t to experience the eruption, you should arrive way early. There are a lot of other people that want to see the show and there is often a traffic jam right at the entrance to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
Make sure you’ve got enough time to see all the other attractions in Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, because there is a lot to see! There are hot springs, colorful sulphur caves, lakes and mud pots. There are three loops to walk around. If you want to see everything (recommended) plan on spending two to two and a half hours!
Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland highlights
Waimangu or Waiotapu?
Now, what is better, Waimangu or Waiotapu? If you would ask us, we would say: “both !”
The Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is packed with a lot of volcanic features: geysers, mud pool, smoking holes, etc. It is also very colorful (Devil’s Bath, Champagne Pool). The downside is, that it is usually very crowded.
The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is more quit and is sourrounded by a very beautiful landscape. You can get a first hand experience of the destructive power of a huge volcanic eruption. It also seems not as crowded as Waiotapu!
What if I have to decide between Waimangu or Waiotapu ?
If you don’t have time or the money for visiting both, you should ask yourself:
Do I want to do a peacful hike in a wonderful valley with a few cool attractions (Waimangu)? Or do I want to experience the entire range of geothermal activities and am willing to put up with the hordes of tourists (Waiotapu)?