New Zealand is a land of diverse and rugged beauty. Sitting within the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is home to active volcanoes, hot springs, spectacular volcanic lakes and steaming geysers. Most of the geothermal activity occurs on the North Island in the Taupo Volcanic Zone and most sites aren’t cheap to visit. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up five free activities where you can experience what’s on offer without digging in to the holiday budget.
1. Bubbling mud and a free footbath
Where: Kuirau Park, Rotorua
The hub of New Zealand’s geothermal happenings, Rotorua is riddled with tourist attractions and hefty price tags to match. Enter Kuirau Park. Located in the centre of town, this public park has no entry fee and is dotted with walking tracks that will guide you past bubbling mud, steaming hot pools and indulgent footbaths. The manicured gardens and pretty lakes at either end make this space a great picnic spot.
A photo posted by Nicka Nyman (@nicka_n) on
2. Dig your own hot pool
Where: Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula
It may not be a secret, but it’s still worth putting a visit to Hot Water Beach on your Kiwi bucket list. Just as its name suggests, this sandy strip on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula has underground hot springs that can reach over 60°C. Visitors can dig through the sand and access the heated water within two hours either side of low tide. Get there early to mark your sandy patch and then create your own natural hot pool to bask in, mere steps away from the chilled Pacific Ocean. If pool design is your forte, spades are available for hire at some of the shops in the cruisy beachside town.
Hot Water Beach thermal pools #100daysofhappiness#newzealand#northisland#hotwaterbeach#thermalpools#travel#explore#gopro#hero4#beach#hotsprings A photo posted by Jennifer Johnson (@jenpenxo) on
3. Hike across active volcanoes
Where: Tongariro National Park
Prepare to be wowed and then wowed again during a challenging one-day hike along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Rugged terrain, unpredictable weather and steep inclines only makes the spectacular lunar landscape more rewarding. From craters and active volcanoes to steam vents and awe-inspiring emerald lakes, this world-renowned tramp is 19.4 kilometres and takes around eight hours to conquer. And conquer you will!
A photo posted by Isobel Thomas (@isobelz001) on
4. Picnic on Lake Taupo
Grab a bottle of wine, some nibbles and a beach towel from the car, and claim a lakefront spot for an afternoon picnic. In between sips of wine and dips in the water, take time to marvel at the grandeur of Lake Taupo. Similar in size to Singapore, the mammoth body of water was formed by a volcanic eruption over 26,000 years ago! Pretty amazing, no? Handy hint: The further you venture away from town, the more likely you’ll have the waterfront to yourself.
No Stress. #nofilter #sunset #laketaupo #newzealand A photo posted by @denismoe on
5. Walk to Sulphur Bay
Where: Government Gardens, Queens Drive, Rotorua
The first thing that hits you is the smell. Similar to the odor of rotten eggs the stench of sulphur is impossible to miss. Situated at the southern end of Lake Rotorua, Sulphur Bay sits right over an active geothermal area and is the primary cause of the scent that wafts through town. Follow the boardwalk from Tudor Bath house along the shores of the bay and you’ll see steaming vents, silica flats and boiling mud pools. The area is also a refuge for over 50 bird species, so keep your eyes peeled.
HOT AND DANGEROUS! Exploring sulphur bay on Rotorua lake @rossoboss and myself found active mud volcanos! Naturally formed from the ground, it’s getting hot and steamy out here. #sulphurlake #sulphurbay #sulphur #mudbath #mudholes #boilinghotmud #rotorua #rotoruanz #newzealand #northisland #sulphurpoint #mudvolcano #lakerotorua
A photo posted by Lilly V (@lillychka) on
(Feature: John Ted Daganato)