If you’ve been following along, we’ve shown quite a variety of Rotorua attractions including helicopter tours, geothermal areas and 4-star accommodations. Today we’re going to share one of the most interesting spots during our trip – Hell’s Gate. Sounds intense…right?
We decided on this Rotorua attraction based on the fact that you could relax in the healing mud pools and sulfur waters believed to soften skin and increase blood circulation. When we arrived, we were surprised by the additional things to do here!
THE GEOTHERMAL TOUR
What we didn’t realize is that Hell’s Gate is located on one of the most active geothermal areas in New Zealand. The activity is just below the surface and the waters have some of the most acidic areas.
Hell’s Gate is vast and the walking trails are well kept. We opted to get a guided tour so we could learn more about the area. There is also an option to just take a stroll through on your own, but we recommend the guided tour to learn a lot more about Hell’s Gate.
The beginning part of the tour is of the sulfur baths. The strong scent of sulfur definitely fills the air throughout the hike. Don’t let the title of “baths” fool you, this is stronger than battery acid and no-one has ever bathed in it. Or maybe they have but just didn’t live to tell anyone about it!
Due to naturally occurring minerals, most of these pools exceed the boiling point temperature. Frequent bubbles could be seen throughout the liquid.
THE BUSH WALK
The next area was a stark contrast to what we just viewed. It was rich in vegetation, especially the silver fern which is a symbol of New Zealand.
Notice the orange tree trunks? It’s due to the high level of minerals in the air that form a type of rust on the trunk.
The actual water flow was low during our November trip, however, the Kakahi Falls is the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere!
THE MUD VOLCANO
The last area of the tour was to see the Mud Volcano, Cooking Pools and Sulphur Lake. Hell’s Gate is unique in that it’s the only geothermal park that has a mud volcano.
As we walked through we learned about all the healing powers of the mud which caused us to get really excited about our upcoming mud bath!
Overall the tour took approximately 90 minutes. While it wasn’t as colorful as Wai-O-Tapu, the geothermal activity was quite different and we were happy we experienced both.
At the end of the tour, there was an area to carve a keepsake to take home using traditional carving methods.
The verdict is we need quite a bit more practice to hone in our craft!
THE MUD SPA
Finally, it was time for the main event….relaxing in the mud bath and sulfur waters. The first decision point was public or private. They have a larger public section or you could rent a private room for slightly more money.
While the main public pools were nice, we decided to get the private area for our first mud bath together. Now we must set expectations on this Rotorua attraction. If you are a frequent reader, you know we love thermal areas and spas like the ones we’ve visited in Chile and Costa Rica. While the waters were certainly natural, the overall setting was not luxurious.
Above is the private mud bath we reserved. It was literally a concrete tub filled with mud. While it wasn’t the standard we are used to at EatWorkTravel – we embraced it and ended up having a blast! You don’t need luxury when you are caking yourself with mud.
Following the mud bath, we rinsed off in a cold shower. Yikes! Then it was time to relax in the sulfur waters.
There was a series of pools that had varying degrees of water temperatures. While the mud bath was private, the pools were public. As you can see, on the day we were there it was pretty much private!
Overall it was a fun way to spend a few hours on an afternoon. The spa is more basic than we have experienced in the past but we left relaxed and with soft skin so we’d call it a success!