Wai O Tapu was recommended to us by the staff of the Baden Lodge motel in town as the best Rotorua had to offer, we had no hestitation in heading out.
Wai O Tapu translates as "Sacred Waters" in English. It takes very little stretch of the imagination to see why these waters may be thought of as sacred.
If you've never seen a geyser erupt before, it's recommended that you get there early and buy your tickets as the Lady Knox geyser erupts daily (with a little prompting) at 10:15 each day.
Wai O Tapu is located on the edge of a volcanic depression (calderra) within the Raupo Volcanic Zone and has been associated with volcanic activity of 160,000 years. The landscape here is like nothing I have ever experienced before. The steam discharges as you enter the site at the Devils Homes, the Acid-Sulfate water and the Alkali-Chloride water all combine to create a highly colourful experience. The landscape of the Wai O Tapu varys quite dramatically from area to area, sometimes in a vary short space of time. Some areas resemble what one might imagine to be a the surface of the moon.
There are three recommended walks through the site, of which we took the longest. The official map reckoned on 75 minutes to complete the longest walk of Wai O Tapu - although it took us more like 2 hours as we stopped to admire the wonderful vistas and views as they opened up in front of us.
It's difficult to pick out a highlight at Wai O Tapu. But for me, the Artists Palatte, the Champagne Pool and Lake Ngakoro have to be the Top Three. The approach to Artists Palatte is from higher ground and this is, without a doubt, the best way to view it. The Greens and Yellows of the Palatte really stick out at you. Towards the right of this vantage point, the Champagne pool with its Reds, Blues, Greens and all manner of colour strike you like a great big striking thing. This is simply an amazing site. It's tempting, once you descend, to simply continue round the Artists Palatte to the Champagne Pool. Don't!! Continue along Walk Three to the Lake. This does require a decent level of fitness - but don't be put off. The utter greeness of the Lake is more than worth the walk.
Entry is 25NZD per adult, 8.50NZD per child (5 to 15inclusive)
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Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook