Waimangu Volcanic Valley was the third geothermal reserve I visited in the Rotorua area. It was also the most expensive. I wanted to explore as many geothermal areas as I can while I was in the area, mainly to experience them all, but also so I could give my recommendations on which ones are worth visiting.
In this blog post I will be giving my honest review of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, so you can make the decision whether it’s worth visiting or not!
Table of Contents
A Little History
Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the youngest geothermal system in the world. Here you can experience volcanic craters, hot water springs, and rare and unusual plant life. June 10th 1886 is when Mt Tarawera and Lake Rotomahana erupted. This is also when a new eco system began.
In 1900’s the world largest geyser began to erupt with black discharge. This geyser was names “Waimangu” which means black water. It began to cease eruptions in 1904. From here new lakes and many more eruptions happened.
Waimangu is significant as it is the only geothermal system in the world which has been created within written history (within the last 5000 years). This is also the only geothermal system in New Zealand which has not been altered by mans activity.
It has a geothermal aquifer of approximately 60 square kilometres, with a depth of approximately 2-3km within the earths crust. In other words, its big.
Where is it?
Waimangu Volanic Valley is located in the Bay of Plenty area, approximately 20mins from Rotorua. This was the quietest geothermal valley I visited, but I can imagine it getting packed in the peak season.
How much does it cost?
There are several experiences which you can do in the Valley.
- The full Waimangu Experience: This includes the self guided walk and a boat cruise. This costs $89NZD per adult, $30NZD per child and $215NZD per family.
- Self Guided Walk – This includes a self guided walk exploring the geothermal area, this is what I opted for. This costs $44NZD per adult, $15NZD per child and $100NZD per family.
- Boat cruise – This take you on the water of Lake Rotomahana, where you get to discover the history of Mount Tarawera’s eruption. This is not accessible via foot. Costs are $47NZD per adult, $15NZD per child and $115NZD per family.
Even though I only did the self guided walk, looking back I WISH I did the boat cruise. Id would have been incredible to see the areas which cannot be explored via foot.
Despite the incredible history of this Volcanic Valley and its significance, I honestly did not find it to be the best geothermal valley in the Rotorua area. There was a lot to see, but there was nowhere near as much as Wai-O-Tapu.
Also keep in mind that I did not do the boat cruise and doing the boat cruise may of changed my opinion greatly!
The walk is all downhill, and you are picked up via shuttle bus at the end. This is great, otherwise you would have to walk all uphill, which wouldn’t of been fun. The shuttle bus runs roughly every hour, and there are several bus stops along the way. Although, I recommend you complete the whole walk.
You do get impressive views along the walk and see some natural marvels. Maybe as this was my third geothermal reserve, I had seen it all, and wasn’t too impressed? The highlights for me where the Frying Pan Lake Crater and the Inferno Crater. I did also walk up the mountain to get some views, however, there really weren’t any.
The walk was not hard, only the uphill part which I did, which is not needed. There are some amazing views, but in my honest opinion, unless you are doing the boat cruise, I think I would explore some of the other geothermal areas.
So was it worth it? If you decided to go, do the boat cruise. I feel like that would provide a lot more interesting views and factors to this valley.