Auckland, United Kingdom
October 30, 2002
Waiotapu is advertised as a "thermal wonderland," which pretty much describes it down to a tee. It has a huge display of natural thermal activity, which is well mapped, and you have access to plenty of information about what you are looking at, with the aid of information boards around the park.
And, of course, Waiotapu is home to the Lady Knox Geyser. Discovered in the late 1800s by New Zealand prison labourers who were being used to plant the Kaingarua Forest close by, it is one of the best, and easiest, geysers to view. It was officially opened as a tourist attraction in 1903 by Lady Knox, the daughter of the New Zealand Governor General at the time. For 30 years afterwards, it erupted every 48 hours. It would still do that now, but instead, the eruption is induced at 10:15 every morning by a guide and a packet of soap powder!
When going around the park, I would recommend using the map, and taking all of the paths. We did, and saw some fantastic sights we would have otherwise missed out on. But, if you don't want to do all the walks available (you fool!), the maps and boards around the park are well detailed, and show you which way to go for the quick routes. None of the walks are that strenuous, although some aren't suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. This, however, has nothing to do with the grade of the walk, just the uneven and narrow paths.
Some of the best sights at the park are the Campagne Pool--a massive 60 metres in diameter, and 60 metres deep, this pool has a bright orange edge, and a beautiful blue/green centre. Also, Devil's Home impressed me--a crater 45 metres in diameter and a (mere!) 12 metres deep, it was formed over the last 900 years gradually, by acid water action from the many springs, causing a surface collapse, which formed the craters. It costs $15 for an adult pass to the area, and, for that, you see the whole of the park, and the Lady Knox geyser. The park is open from 8:30-5:00 daily.
From journal Rotorua Roamer