Last Updated on by Savannah Luca

Welcome to #luggagefriends month online here at! The idea of #luggagefriends is to create the real picture of how Kiwi’s travel through photography, content and stories shared from our great NZ community! To start us off we have the lovely Leah from Proceed to Gate sharing her story of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland! Make sure you check out Leah’s blog here for travel inspired by the world! *EDIT: Leah’s blog no longer exists 🙁 

Considered to be the most colourful and diverse natural geothermal feature in New Zealand, Wai-O-Tapu is sculpted from volcanic activity occurring over thousands of years. This great natural wonder is just outside of Rotorua and is a great choice for an afternoon outing when you’re in the area checking out all the other great spots.Wai-O-Tapu 1

Wai-O-Tapu is well set up for all types of tourists with ample parking provided, so anything from a family van to a camper van will fit in nicely. From the carpark, you make your way in to the visitor centre where you can stock up on any food or gifts you might need before purchasing your entry ticket ($32.50, for those taking notes) and heading in to the wonderland.

I visited Wai-O-Tapu during the summer so the weather was perfect for an afternoon’s walking. However, if you aren’t great with the heat then a cooler time of year might be more suitable as the thermal steam can be powerful when combined with the summer heat. We had a pretty free afternoon while we were there so we chose to walk the whole Wai-O-Tapu circuit which takes about an hour and a half, but there are a variety of tracks that can take as little as half an hour and which might be more suited to the tiny humans.

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A great feature of Wai-O-Tapu is that you needn’t worry about wandering around aimlessly not knowing what you’re looking at as everyone receives a guide map with their ticket that tells them all about each spot along the thermal wonderland circuit. This makes for a perfect setup for tourists who are photo happy, much like myself, as it allows you to go at your own pace and see the things you care about.

Wai-O-Tapu: Thermal Wonderland is one of the best choices for a day out, especially if you’re looking for a family trip. The terrain is easy going and there’s loads to learn about the geothermal activity, the kids’ll love it, the parents’ll love it, its a win-win. As always, make sure you allow for travel time and are prepared for the wiles of mother nature. Safety first, folks!Wai-O-Tapu 7