Ahhhh Rotorua – the place of adrenaline-pumping activities and, let’s be honest, smelly sulphur. N and I did our fair share of thrill-seeking (more on that later) while we were in Rotorua, however we also spent a day learning about the geothermal activity here.
To truly immerse ourselves in learning about Rotorua’s mud and sulphur, we booked a ticket to Hells Gate Geothermal Park. Our ticket gave us a pass for the geothermal reserve walk, as well as a mud bath and sulphur spa (Tip: our hostel offered a small discount for the entry fee, so make sure you check this out).
We began by walking around the park and checking out New Zealand’s largest mud volcano and the biggest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. While a guided tour is available, we grabbed a map and took ourselves through the acres and acres of bubbling mud, steaming hot water lakes, sulphur crystals and colourful pools.
Also on offer was the chance to create a traditional Maori wood carving. I chose to carve out a leaf, which was really tricky for me (I’ll blame being left-handed). The instructor was very patient to a point and then ended up carving the rest for me!
Our last stop was the mud bath and sulphur spa. We coated ourselves in thick grey mud, which is said to open and clean the skin’s pores. After 20 minutes, a park supervisor told us to shower off the mud and hop into the sulphur spa, which is said to gently exfoliate your skin.
We showered after about 20 minutes and left. Little did we know that we would feel the affects of our visit for days to come…
DON’T wear silver jewellery: I took my jewellery off, put it in my bag and it STILL went black. I thought my Tiffany earrings and bracelet had been destroyed beyond repair. In a panic, I took it to a local jeweller who kindly cleaned it all for me. Phew!
DON’T put the bathers/towel you used anywhere near other clothing and wash them separately (they will need several washes). We made the rookie mistake of washing them with other clothes. What happened? It made every other item smell like sulphur too! You may even wish to take some old bathers/towels and toss them out afterwards.
DON’T put your face anywhere near the sulphur water. N and I closed our eyes to go to sleep later that night, only to find ourselves running into the bathroom to bathe our eyes with cold water. I fell asleep with wet paper towel on my eyes!
Have you ever been to Rotorua, dear readers? How was your geothermal experience?
Details: Hells Gate Geothermal Park
361 State Highway 30, Tikitere, Rotorua
Opening hours: 8:30am until 10:00pm except Christmas Day
Tickets approximately $90 (our experience)