Rotorua’s geothermal landscape and Maori Villages

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
62 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
New Zealand
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 50
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
199th/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 60% SUMMARY RATING: Great experience


Just outside of Rotorua, you’ll be able to smell the various thermal spots long before you see them!  But don’t let that put you off as the thermal pools with their gushing geysers are beautiful and there is a great chance to see and learn a bit about Maori culture in the Maori villages nearby.  Overall, a must visit for this part of New Zealand


3 high levels tips for your visit:

  1. The place you want to visit is the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve.  The Reserve is broken up into 2 main parts: firstly, Te Puia which has walkways and around the bubbling mud, minerals pools and the booming geysers like the 15m /50ft high Pohutu.  Secondly, you have the Thermal Village, which gives you a chance to see how the Maori traditionally interact with the unique environment.  It can attract a lot of fellow tourists, but its big enough not to feel overly crowded
  2. Hot n’ Cold – the most enjoyable experience we found was with some of the natural pools that aren’t part of some of the reserves.  There are a few dotted around that have the combination of the hot water meeting the cold water of the nearby streams and give that wonderful feeling of moving somewhere in the middle to find that perfect temperature.  The one we enjoyed the most was called the Hot n’ Cold near Waiotapu which is free to use and can see more details in this good summary website – Rotorua Travel Secrets website
  3. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – visit here for the most colourful thermal pools


#1 Seeing the 15m / 50ft Pohutu (Big Splash) geyser jumping out

#2 Enjoying the wonderful feeling of switching between the hot thermal waters and the cold run off of the nearby rivers in the Hot n' Cold by Waiotapu

#3 Seeing how the Maori traditionally interact with their unique environment in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village

#4 The bright colours of the geothermal pools that make up the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

#5 Wandering around the geothermal pools of Te Puia in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone