Sunday, 9 October 2011

NZ: Hell's Gate, Rotorua

The Wai-O-Tapu thermal park so whetted our appetite for volcanic activity, we went on to another thermal park in the afternoon.  Hell's Gate (Tikitere) was seriously volcanic with hot boiling mudpools and boasted the largest mud volcano in NZ.  I could still smell sulphur when I looked at the photos again. The park sits on a magma spike, which accounted for the high temperatures of its waters.  It is owned by the Maoris but was actually named by George Bernard Shaw, who so impressed the Maoris when he visited, they let him name the various sights in the park.  The park also offered a mudbath experience, supposedly good for arthritis,not to mention possible "powers of foresight".  I expected to be up to my neck in mud, but was a little disappointed to find it was only mud water - I have to dig up the mud from the bottom of the bath to smear it over myself.  It was quite an experience nevertheless - sulphur immersion.
Devil's Bath:  The water of this shallow pool was used for bathing by the "Tohunga" (high priest) who attributed his powers of foresight to the sulphur waters of Tikitere

One of many bubbling mud pools

Here is a graphic explanation of what is happening at Hell's Gate

 A post-apocalyptic landscape

But the vegetation survived

Ink pots

New Zealand's largest mud volcano

Odd place for a piece of driftwood

The Cooking Pool - with a constant temperature of 98 degrees C, an adult pig can cook in 2 hours, smells of sulphur, but apparently "tastes great"

The Sulphur Pool
"Sodom and Gomorrah" (Shaw's naming)

And in the midst of this barren landscape, spring flowers!


  1. Stunning post RC -- so evocative!

  2. Thanks, John! It's not a place you forget soon.