Wai-o-Tapu : Is it worth it?

I visited a lot of the thermal valleys Rotorua has to offer, and Wai-o-Tapu was by far my favourite (and the best!)

I was actually lucky to visit here. This was on my list of things to do, however when researching it – I found out it was shut for maintenance and updates. I didn’t even realise it was open till I decided to look it up the day of visiting. It turns out it’s been open since early October.

But the big question is, is it worth it? I think so! I had a blast here, and with a love for photography I had a great time capturing the different and unique pools.

Where is it?

It should be noted that Wai-o-Tapu is only open Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Wai-o -Tapu is located about 25mins from Rotorua. It gets very popular in peak times and during school holidays.

How much does it cost?

Entry to Lady Knox Geyser and the Thermal Valley are as below.

  • Adult: $32.50NZD
  • Child: $11NZD
  • Family: $85NZD (2 adults, 2 children)
  • Family: $85NZD (2 adults, 3 children)

You can purchase your tickets online or at the ticket counter. If you purchase them online, you have 3 months from the purchase date to use them. There is no limit to how many people are let in the park, so you do not need to enter at a certain time.

Things to do?

Wai-o-Tapu is in essentially spilt into three attractions; the mud pool, Lady Knox Geyser and the Geothermal Area.

You will have to pay to see the Lady Knox Geyser and Geothermal Area. The mud pool is a free attraction and worth seeing, as it is the largest mud pool in the southern hemisphere!

Lady Knox Geyser

This attraction is only able to be seen at 10.15am, it runs for about 45mins and then the gates to this area are shut. It can only be accessed with a ticket from Wai-o-Tapu.

I’ll be truthful, it was impressive to see BUT it is triggered by man, so it’s not a nature beauty or anything.

The history behind this place is very fascinating. There is a prison a little while away from the geyser, and prisons stumbled across this area. Which used to be a fairly large pool. They realised it was warm and decided to use this to their advantage (as this was a luxury for them!).

They started washing their clothes down in the pool, with a particular soap which causes a chemical reaction. This caused their clothes to shoot up into the air, and gave them quite a surprise! The prisoners than built the structure you see today to add to the height their clothes went. This was their entertainment!

It got the name Lady Knox Geyser, simply because it was named after the person who came to check on the prisoners welfare (Mr.Knox) daughter.

Geothermal Area

This walk is fairly easy and will take you roughly 2-3 hrs to complete; depending on how long you stop for, how much you stop and your fitness level.

The walk is relatively flat, with some sections which require climbing of stairs. It’s not hard to do at all, just wanting to warn people that there are some stairs!

The path takes you around several geothermal pools, the most impressive being the champagne pools. You then have a choice to complete just walk 1 or add walk 2 & 3. I recommend you do the whole thing.

You get very impressive views and a lot of range on this walk. Make sure to have your camera ready! I would also make sure you have a hat and some sunscreen as there are parts of the track that have no shade cover.


  • The walk gets very busy straight after the Lady Knox Geyser presentation. So I would recommend you visit the mud pools first, then come into the geothermal park. Otherwise you will be very crowded.
  • Walk all three walks to get the best range of scenery
  • Wear hat and sunscreen on hot days
  • If you are not interested in seeing the Lady Knox Geyser, I would come in the late afternoon when the crowds start to disappear

Click here for a detailed two week North Island itinerary!

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