12 Feb Hells Gate Thermal Reserve in Rotorua, New Zealand
In 2009 I went to the North Island of New Zealand and visited this geothermal park in Rotorua. When you get to Rotorua, the sulphur in the air means it smells like rotten eggs…not very pleasant. But after a while you get used to it and it is incredible to see this hotbed of geothermal activity. Hells Gate & Wai Ora Spa is based on a volcanic plateau, producing hot springs, steaming fumeroles, erupting geysers and mud pools. Now if I were to imagine what ‘hell’ would look like, I’m sure it would feature boiling hot pools like these guarded by devils with pitchforks ready to throw you in.
As you walk through the geothermal park you pass boiling hot springs of different temperatures and colours, a sulphur pool with a PH similar to strong acid, a mud volcano, a pool of boiling water which is 122 degrees Celsius at the surface, a pool used by Maoris for cooking and a medicinal sulphur lake. The highlight is Kahaki falls, which is a hot waterfall with a temperature of 40 degrees; warm enough to take a shower. The Maori Warriors used it to bathe their wounds under this waterfall and it is the largest hot waterfall in the southern hemisphere.
Hells Gate also has a mud bath and spa where you can have various mud treatments and massages. The mud is rich in minerals and the sulphur lakes have curative and invigorating properties.