We leave behind the mountains and volcanos of Lake Taupo and turn the camper van once again north towards the Coromandel and Auckland. The days are passing quickly now that we are approaching the end of our stay in New Zealand with only five more nights left. With no time to waste but still relaxed we are headed for the Bay of Plenty once more but on the way we stop at one of the most visited sites in New Zealand, Wai-o-tapu geothermal area or known as the sacred waters to the Māori. Just north of the Taupo Volcanic Zone the area is just south of Lake Rotorua where we passed through earlier in our journey. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is open to the public, providing access to part of the larger scenic reserve. Accessible by foot, paths traverses the park past hot springs, geysers and mud pools. The most amazing part is the famous Champagne Pool and Artist’s Palette which forms the central attraction.
The Champagne Pool is stunning, fantastic natural colours emerge from the depths, the orange edges of the pool are formed from the arsenic sulphides present in the mixture, the boiling waters are turned yellow by the high concentration of sulphur present, indeed the smell of rotten eggs follows us around the park ! On closer inspection the blue central waters of the Champagne Pool are covered with bubbles as escaping carbon dioxide reaches it’s surface, the pool has been named because of the similarities to the fizzing of a champagne glass. Hot blue steam is constantly swirling into our faces as we stand at the edges of the 100 degree boiling crater, we separated by only a low trip high barrier !
Into the forest
In the afternoon we leave behind the geothermal area of the central plains and skirting Lake Rotorua we momentarly cross our tracks from two weeks ago, this time we head north for Tauranga on the Bay of Plenty coastline.
Check out the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Area website : Wai O-Tapu
Where : Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Area, Nr. Rotorua, New Zealand
Travelling : Central North Island, just south of Lake Rotorua. It get busy, so get there early, wear a sun hat and bring some water ! Little shaded cafe and shop for browsing afterwards. Lady Knox geyser is an extra walk or drive up the road not part of the entrance zone, also gets packed as people wait for it to blow !
Camping : Five Mile Bay, on the southern outskirts of Taupo, a busy freedom camping ground with fantastic views and access to the lake for a cold swim. Drive north through Taupo on Highway 5, the thermal park is on the right hand side.
Next Up : The Coromandel & Hahei