Rotorua boasts a variety of hot pools, each with their own unique characteristics. From natural hot springs set in serene surroundings to modern spa facilities with multiple pools of different temperatures. There’s a hot spring experience to suit every preference. Some Rotorua hotsprings offer private pool options, allowing you to enjoy a more intimate and secluded soak. Others provide communal pools where you can mingle with fellow visitors.
Visiting some of the Rotorua hotsprings is a must do. Whether it is to relax, for therapeutic benefits or to adore the geothermal wonder of Mother Nature. Find in our complete guide the best hotsprings in Rotorua to visit.
What causes the Rotorua hotsprings?
The hot springs in Rotorua are caused by the region’s geothermal activity, which is a result of the area’s location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. The Pacific Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped zone in the Pacific Ocean where numerous tectonic plates meet, leading to high volcanic and seismic activity.
The geothermal activity in Rotorua is primarily driven by the presence of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, a geothermal hotspot that stretches from Lake Taupo to White Island (Whakaari) in the Bay of Plenty. This volcanic zone is part of the larger Pacific Plate subducting beneath the Australian Plate. In particular around Rotorua is the crust of the earth significantly thinner than in other parts of New Zealand.
Which are the best free Rotorua hotsprings?
The best free hot springs in Rotorua are Kerosene Creek and Kuirau Park, however the last mentioned is not a hot spring to soak in but a geothermal park you can visit for free. Kerosene Creek on the other hand is a 30 minute drive from Rotorua and is a popular spot to enjoy a natural geothermal bath. It’s a small stream with hot water running through a lush forest setting. Please note that Kerosene Creek is on public land.
Another option is Hot Water Beach along the shores of Lake Tarawera. Although this is not technically within Rotorua but nearby, Hot Water Beach at Lake Tarawera is worth mentioning. It’s a natural hot spring that can be accessed by boat, kayak or via a 15 km hike. One of the great day trip to do from Rotorua. The hot water seeps up from the sand on the lake’s edge, allowing visitors to dig their own pools and enjoy a warm soak while taking in the beautiful view.
What is the purpose of hot springs?
Hot springs offer a range of benefits and different purposes. From relaxation and enjoyment for individuals to a broader cultural, economic, and scientific contribution. The use and benefit of hot springs varies depending on their specific characteristics and location.
Some of the most important therapeutic effects that hot spring water has on humans are the healing properties for skin ailments, joint pain, and respiratory issues. This is because of the minerals found in the water, such as sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and others.
Another purpose of hot springs is that they are used as a source of geothermal energy. Geothermal power plants harness the heat from the hot water to produce electricity and heat buildings, making use of the Earth’s natural heat.
Lastly, the hot springs are a great source for scientific research and education. Hot springs and the geothermal systems provide valuable opportunities for geologists, biologists and other researchers study hot springs to understand geothermal processes, mineral deposition, and their effects on the surrounding environment.
What is the best geothermal park for the Rotorua hotsprings?
With plenty of options it might feel overwhelming to choose the best geothermal park in Rotorua to visit. Each of these thermal parks have their own charm and unique features. Whether you’re more interested in vibrant hot pools, Maori culture, unique geothermal formations, or a mix of everything, Rotorua has a thermal park to suit your preferences.
Here are some of the top thermal parks in Rotorua
- Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland: Wai-O-Tapu is one of the most popular and visually stunning geothermal parks in Rotorua. It features colorful hot pools, the famous Champagne Pool, Lady Knox Geyser, and other geothermal wonders. The geothermal activity here creates a surreal and otherworldly landscape, making it a must-visit in Rotorua.
- Te Puia: Te Puia is not only a thermal park but also a Maori cultural center. Here you can experience traditional Maori performances, learn about Maori arts and crafts, and explore the geothermal valley. The park is home to the impressive Pohutu Geyser, which erupts regularly, and showcases bubbling mud pools and hot springs.
- Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park & Mud Spa: This park offers a unique experience with not only geothermal features but also therapeutic mud baths. Here you can enjoy a mud spa and then explore the geothermal reserve, which includes the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Waimangu Volcanic Valley: Waimangu is the world’s youngest geothermal system, created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. The valley offers a range of walking trails through geothermal features, including hot springs, steaming cliffs, and Frying Pan Lake, the largest hot spring in the world. One of the best ways to admire this otherworldly landscape is by this floatplane tour. During this flight you will not only have the unique experience of taking off and landing on Lake Rotorua. But you will also see the largest eruption trail in New Zealand’s living memory.
Free public park for the Rotorua Hotsprings
- Kuirau Park: While not as extensive as some other thermal parks, Kuirau Park is a free public park in Rotorua with geothermal activity. Here you can see hot springs, mud pools, and steam vents but there is not a public hot spring to soak in.
Best Rotorua hotsprings to soak in
If you had to choose one Rotorua hot pool experience, it has to be the Polynesian Spa. With breathtaking views of Lake Rotorua and the tranquil spa gardens, the Polynesian Spa boasts a range of pools to suit different preferences and needs. You can choose from mineral pools with different temperatures, private pools for a more intimate experience, perfect for couples, and family pools where everyone can enjoy the healing waters together.
Make sure to book your entrance tickets in advance as there are limited spots available.
Check here the availability and prices for the Polynesian Spa.
Another great hot pool in Rotorua are the Secret Spot hot tubs which offer a secluded and intimate bathing experience in a picturesque natural setting. The collection of twelve six-seater hot tubs are designed for privacy and comfort. They are beautifully crafted using natural materials like wood and stone, creating a rustic and charming atmosphere. The tubs are filled with pure, fresh geothermal water sourced from natural hot springs, ensuring a truly authentic and invigorating bathing experience.
After your soak you can relax a little longer on the veranda where you can enjoy a snack, ice cream or beverage from the on-site cafe.
Make sure to secure your hot tub way in advance as they are popular and sell out quickly!
Check here the availability and prices for the Secret Spot hot tubs in Rotorua.
The Waikite Valley Thermal Pools are fed by the Te Manaroa Springs. This is the world’s largest hot spring holding an estimated volume of over one million liters of hot water. This vast volume made it the largest known hot spring in the world, surpassing the previous record-holder, Frying Pan Lake, which is also located in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
The thermal pools are fed by pure, natural geothermal water that originates deep within the earth’s crust. Thanks to the mineral-rich waters which flows into a series of pools, bathing in these hot pools provides a soothing and rejuvenating experience. The mineral composition of the water, which includes elements like sulfur, silica, and potassium, helps relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote overall well-being.
In addition to the pools, the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools offers spa and wellness facilities to enhance your experience. You will have access to private spas, private bathing areas, steam rooms, or massage services. Besides that, the thermal pools have a family friendly environment with dedicated areas for children, featuring shallower waters and water play features. This is without a doubt the most complete experience of the Rotorua hotsprings.
Make sure to book your entrance ticket in advance as there are limited slots available.
Check here the availability and prices for the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools.
Hell’s Gate is a geothermal park known for its remarkable landscape and rich Māori history. It’s one of the famous hot springs in New Zealand. The sight of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools, and the unmistakable scent of sulfur in the air feels like stepping into a surreal world. Here you can see the Earth’s powerful forces on full display.
The highlight of your visit to Hell’s Gate is undoubtedly the mud bath. Step into a warm pool of geothermal mud that has been naturally enriched with minerals and therapeutic properties over centuries. The mud is silky-smooth and pleasantly warm to the touch, creating a soothing sensation as you submerge yourself.
The minerals present in the mud, such as sulfur and silica, are believed to have cleansing, exfoliating, and rejuvenating properties. As you apply the mud to your body, it can help to detoxify your skin, leaving it feeling soft, smooth, and nourished.
After your mud bath, you can further enhance your experience by indulging in a soak in the Sulphur Spa. Immerse yourself in warm geothermal waters infused with natural minerals, allowing your body to relax and rejuvenate. The Sulphur Spa is a perfect way to unwind and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.
Book here your ticket for Hell’s Gate mud bath
Check here the other options to explore Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park
The Manupirua Springs Hot Pools are located on Lake Rotoiti. You can only get there by boat or kayak, so if you want to have a fun tour that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated then book this 4 hour tour. It is the perfect combination of kayaking and relaxing at the hot pools.
Imagine being right on the edge of the lake, surrounded by a variety of hot pools with different temperatures. These pools are fed by a natural hot spring, creating a blissful haven for relaxation.
But that’s not all! During your time on the lake the knowledgeable guide will share fascinating stories about the area’s history and local Māori legends. It’s a chance to connect with the culture and heritage of the place, adding another layer of depth to your kayak experience.
And here’s the cherry on top, you will have the option to explore a cave where you might catch a glimpse of mesmerizing glow-worms! It’s like stepping into a magical world as these tiny creatures illuminate the darkness. It’s truly a sight to behold and a must do in Rotorua!
Waitangi Soda Springs
The Waitangi Soda Springs is a lesser-known hot spring located near Lake Rotoehu, approximately 30 minutes’ drive north of Rotorua. Situated in a rural area, and surrounded by native New Zealand bush and farmland, the Waitangi Soda Spring is less developed compared to some of the more famous thermal parks in Rotorua, giving it a more natural and secluded feel.
The springs are called “soda springs” due to the presence of soda (sodium bicarbonate) in the water. This mineral-rich water flows through a stream and mixes with the cooler water of the Waitangi Stream, creating a comfortable temperature for bathing.
The admission fee is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for kids. A family (2 Adults & 3 Children) can have a discount package of $35.00 total.
Best Rotorua hotsprings geothermal parks
Orakei Korako is situated approximately 25 kilometers (about 15.5 miles) north of Rotorua. The geothermal attraction of Orakei Korako is characterized by its vibrant silica terraces, hot springs, geysers, bubbling mud pools, and the distinctive “Emerald Terrace” – a striking green-colored terrace formed by mineral deposits.
Orakei Korako is known for its unspoiled, natural beauty and relatively untouched landscapes. Compared to some other thermal parks in the area, Orakei Korako is less developed, giving you a sense of being in a pristine and remote environment.
One of the unique features of Orakei Korako is the “Ruatapu Geyser,” which was once an active geyser but has been dormant since the 1980s. However, the geyser’s colorful terrace and crater can still be seen, providing a glimpse into its past activity. To reach the main geothermal area, you have to take a short boat ride across the serene Lake Ohakuri. The boat ride itself offers stunning views and adds to the overall experience.
Wai-o Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Wai-O-Tapu is renowned for its vibrant and colorful geothermal features. As you explore the park through the network of well-maintained walking trails, you’ll encounter a diverse range of thermal pools, geysers, and mud pools. The Champagne Pool, with its striking orange and turquoise hues, is a major highlight. The Artist’s Palette is another mesmerizing attraction, with its multicolored mineral-rich deposits that resemble a painter’s palette.
Another spectacle to witness is the daily eruption of Lady Knox Geyser at 10.15 AM. The eruption can reach impressive heights, creating a memorable sight.
To explore Wai-O-Tapu there are several options. The most impressive way is with this helicopter tour. But you can also explore the geothermal park by foot.
Check here the availability for a Waimangu and Wai-o Tapu tour to see the best of both geothermal landscapes.
Exploring the Waimangu Volcanic Valley in Rotorua is like stepping into a world shaped by the forces of nature. This geothermal wonderland offers a unique and mesmerizing experience, showcasing the raw power and beauty of volcanic activity with a mix of vibrant colors, steaming geysers, bubbling hot pools, and striking mineral formations.
The lush native forests, pristine lakes and a diverse range of geothermal features create a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere.
Exploring the Waimangu Volcanic Valley is best done through this guided tour. Knowledgeable guides will accompany you and provide fascinating insights into the valley’s geology, history, and ecological significance. They’ll share stories about volcanic eruptions, explain the formation of the geothermal features, and highlight the unique plant and animal species that call this area home.
But you can also explore the volcanic valley by yourself via the network of well-maintained walking trails. The Highlights Walk is only 1.5km long, but the full experience is via the 4km full walk from the Waimangu Entrance to Inferno Crater, then over Mt Haszard Hiking Trail.
Another option is to book the Waimangu and Wai o Tapu tour so you can explore the best of both geothermal wonders in Rotorua.
Kuirau Geothermal Park
Right in the city centre of Rotorua you will find the only free, geothermal public park in New Zealand. This geothermal playground showcases the raw power and beauty of the Earth’s geothermal activity. You will see bubbling mud pools, several hot springs and the impressive steaming lake. The well-maintained walkways and boardwalks that meander through the geothermal area give you the opportunity to explore the various geothermal features up close. Informational signs along the way provide insights into the geology and natural processes at play.
The park also provides picnic areas where you can relax, enjoy a meal, and take in the stunning surroundings. Restroom facilities and drinking water stations are available to ensure your comfort during your visit. It’s a perfect spot to have a leisurely picnic while immersing yourself in the geothermal wonders of the park. A must visit when you are in Rotorua!
What is the temperature of the hot springs in Rotorua?
The temperature of the hot springs in Rotorua varies widely depending on the specific hot spring and its location within the region. The geothermal activity in Rotorua results in a range of water temperatures, from pleasantly warm to scalding hot.
- Warm Springs: The hot springs in Rotorua that have water temperatures which are comfortably warm, range from around 30°C to 40°C (86°F to 104°F). These springs are generally safe for bathing and are popular for relaxation and recreational purposes.
- Hot Springs: Many hot springs in Rotorua have temperatures that go beyond the warm range, often reaching between 40°C to 50°C (104°F to 122°F). These hotter springs can provide a more therapeutic and rejuvenating experience.
- Scalding Hot Springs: Some geothermal features, such as fumaroles or bubbling mud pools, have extremely high temperatures, well above 100°C (212°F). These hot springs or mud pools are not suitable for bathing and are hazardous due to the risk of burns.
Where to stay in Rotorua
When it comes to booking accommodation in Rotorua, you have a variety of options to suit different preferences and budgets. From family rooms to budget Holiday Parks or campgrounds. Or for luxury travel couples who prefer more privacy or wellness retreats has Rotorua plenty of options. From stunning lakefront accommodation to Geothermal Spa Retreats, find here some of the best picks.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots. But for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads. We rented for 6 weeks a Mitsubishi ASX model and were super happy with this car!
The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. Make sure to check if your campervan has a shower because this might influence where you want to camp. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature.
We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn. They have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the best Rotorua hotsprings. Make sure to put some of these hot springs on your New Zealand North Island itinerary!
There are many amazing other things to do and places to visit on the North Island of New Zealand. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides!