When a local volcano, Mt Tarawera, exploded on the night of June 10th 1886, the world's newest geothermal system came into being.
Mt Tarawera opened up like a zip with no less than 13 craters blasting off over an area that snaked for about 17kms (10.5mi), towards what is now known as Waimangu Volcanic Valley… that's huge.
Along that path lay a small lake by the name of Rotomakariri. It was engulfed by what was the shallow Lake Rotomahana which expanded to 20 times it's original size. In gaining an additional 40m (131ft) in depth, the famous Pink and White Terraces, which are what visitors came to see, were forever lost to view.
The volcanic activity hasn't stopped since because Waimangu Geyser - the largest geyser in the world - erupted for the first time in 1900 and carried on at semi-regular intervals for the next four years.
By largest, I mean this geyser spewed out rocks and billowing black steam and boiling water to heights of 450m (1476ft).
In 1903 four people were killed when they wandered too close… and it blew. The bodies, which had been picked up and tossed effortlessly into the air, were located some distance away. Their clothing had been ripped to pieces so you can imagine the force that required.
Since then there have been numerous eruptions of varying sizes in different parts of the valley.
A sizable eruption in 1917 killed two people in nearby accommodation. In addition to that eruptions took place again in 1924, 1951, 1973 and 1981.
Living in and around Rotorua, New Zealand, you just never know when an eruption will occur. One day you see solid ground, the next a ngāwhā (boiling spring, mud pool, fumarole etc) appears.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley Ltd has won numerous well-deserved awards for eco tourism in New Zealand.
What's so special about it is the fact that it hasn't been tampered with by man. In fact it is so special, scientists involved in the fields of geology, volcanology and botany come here to study.
It is raw, it is nature at it's best and as such you can never take it too lightly.
You can walk/hike anything from 45mins to 4+ hours, either self-guided or with an onsite tour guide. The guided tour options range from half to whole day tours with pick-ups at your accommodation included.
There is also a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana which can be taken on its own or as a combo with the walk.
It will take about half an hour to travel the 25km south out of Rotorua
heading towards Taupo. If you open the map of google driving directions
to the larger page the directions are given on the left-hand side.
Shuttle options are available too if you haven't got your own transportation.
Good parking is available with toilet facilities at both the entrance and Bus Stop 2 in the valley itself.
Wheelchair access is okay for some portions of the walks. The bus,
jetty and boat have stairs so a companion would have to be available to
help in that instance.
Itinerary Idea for Summer - If self-driving, visit Waimangu (or Waiotapu) in the afternoon and follow that with a swim
and soak at Kerosene Creek. Finish
the day off with a hangi dinner and cultural entertainment at
Tamaki Māori Village (book in advance) before returning to Rotorua.
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your website is the best resource for planning a trip there that I have
encountered! It answers all of the questions you end up having after
reading other sites, and presents information in such a clear and
concise way. ... wish I'd encountered your site before printing off reams of info that will probably be whittled down to one page. ... hope the local government and tourism people realise what a great asset and ambassador they have in you! :P" Vicky Fairchild - Auckland, New Zealand