Outside the city, Wai-O-Tapu (meaning ‘Sacred Waters’ in Maori) is known as a ‘thermal wonderland’ – a theme park where the attractions are all natural, even though you sometimes feel like you’re on another planet
Walking routes around the park take you past all kinds of lakes in neon oranges, yellows and greens, given their colour by mineral deposits.
You want to time your visit well to watch Lady Knox Geyser erupt – she only goes off once a day, at 10.15am, shooting out boiling water 20 metres into the air, and it’s amazing.
Wai-O-Tapu is about a 20-minute drive from Rotorua. It’s open from 8.30am until 5pm from April–October and 6pm from November–March.
Entry costs $32.50 NZD for adults and $11 for children aged 5–11.