Sample article: written to promote visiting different geothermal areas of New Zealand.
Mud, mud, glorious (bubbling) mud: geothermal activity in New Zealand
Fumaroles, geysers, volcanoes, hot pools, mud baths, strange rock formations…you can see them all in New Zealand, and they’re all down to one thing: geothermal activity. Meaning ‘heat from the earth’, geothermal and volcanic activity causes surface results from steam coming up through vents, to naturally hot water, to smoke and lava. New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to see and experience geothermal wonders- the Taupo volcanic area- which includes Taupo, Rotorua, and the Bay of Plenty- is second only to Yellowstone Park in the USA in terms of how active things get, and over here, things get pretty spectacular!
There are some great places to see geothermal wonders, many of them free. For example, Kuirau Park in Rotorua. The really special ones, though, will cost a little for admission- but trust us when we say it’s worth every penny. Waimangu Volcanic Valley- home to frying pan lake, geysers and a volcanic rift; the Craters of the Moon geothermal walk near Rotorua- where you can take a stroll along a boardwalk surrounded by geothermal wonders, and Orakei Korako, the Hidden Valley- a world of geysers and silica terraces, and home to NZ’s only geothermal cave- are our top picks.
Over in Whakatane, you’ll see a plume of smoke in the bay. That’s a sign that you’re still in the volcanic area- 49km off the coast is New Zealand’s most active volcano, White Island. You can visit and explore it- you’ll be given a gas mask and a hard hat when you visit, and you’ll get to see steam vents, volcanic streams, bubbling mud and most spectacular of all, a steaming acid lake.
The Tongariro National Park is still home to active volcanoes- Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngaruahoe and Mt Ruapehu are all still active, and occasionally belch out some smoke to remind visitors of the fact. The area around these mountains is a real wilderness- so it’s no surprise that it was the location for Mordor in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies, with Tongariro as Mount Doom.
One of the biggest benefits of the geothermal activity in NZ is that we have hot pools all over the place. Soaking in thermally heated water is the ultimate in relaxation, and there are so many beautiful places to do it. At Kerosene Creek in Rotorua, you can soak in a hot waterfall. Or visit the Polynesian Spa to relax in thermal pools with a beautiful view of Lake Rotorua. In the Coromandel, there’s Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own hot pool in the sand at low tide, or the Lost Spring Whitianga, who offer thermal soaks and indulgent spa treatments- just gorgeous.
We reckon a mix of both seeing and doing is the best way to make the most of the geothermal playground that is New Zealand. Have you been exploring our bubbling landscape? What were the highlights? Let us know in the comments!