Who is currently in the volcanically active area at Rotorua on the North Island in New Zealand, has a hard time to choose the right adventure! There are various place where you can see hot springs, geysers and other volcanic activities. The most famous attractions are probably the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. We visited both! Which one is better? Waimangu or Waiotapu? Here is our comparison:
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Waimangu Volcanic Valley is about 25 minutes by car from Rotorua. The entrance fee is $ 37 (as of January 2017) and includes a self-guided hike through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and a free return journey by shuttle bus. In addition you can book a boat trip on Lake Rotomahana for $ 42.50. We only made the hike.
The hike takes about two hours. There are two trails. A very simple one that leads all the time through the valley and a somewhat more difficult one. The more difficult one is easy to master for experienced hikers. It’s called the Mt. Haszard Trail. We took did the Mt. Haszard Trail, as you did not miss any highlights in the valley, but some great views over the volcanic valley.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley Highlights
Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland
Waiotapu is also a 25 minute drive south of Rotorua. In the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland there is the Lady Knox Geyser. It is known as the most punctual geyser in the world. If you arrive punctually at 10:15 am at the Lady Knox Geysir, however, it quickly becomes clear that there is a reason for the punctuality: they help with washing powder!
The surface tension between a hot water chamber and a cold chamber is reduced by the soap. Thus the water in the two chambers will mix and cause the eruption. Nevertheless, the geyser is nice to look at and for those who have never seen a geyser before, it’s definitely a must-see!
However, you should arrive in time, as the rush to the erruption is extreme. If you are unlucky, you will come too late and miss the eruption. After the eruption of the geyser, you can explore the rest of the thermal wonderland. There are plenty of hot springs, colored sulfur stacks, colorful lakes and mud pots. There are three different routes. If you want to see everything, you should plan to spend 2.5 hours.
Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland Highlights
Waimangu or Waiotapu?
The most important question to answer is: What should you visit, Waimangu or Waiotapu? In our opinion there is a clear answer: both!
The Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is really peppered with action-packed geothermal features (geyser, mud pool, steaming holes, etc.) and bright colors (Devil’s Bath, Champagne Pool)! However there are many tourists on the way.
The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is much quieter and in the middle of a beautiful green valley. You can experience the enormous and destructive volcanic eruptions from the past. There are also other visitors on the way, but the long walks are much more quiet than Waiotapu.
And if you have to decide for one?
If you have enough time and money, you should definitively visit both attractions.
If you have to decide, you should consider the following: If you prefer a quiet hike through a beautiful valley with some great attractions, Waimangu is for you. If you want to have the full program with geysers and bright colors and don’t mind lots of other tourists, Waiotapu is the one you should go for.