The youngest geothermal valley in the world

The Waimangu Valley (otherwise known as the “Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley”) is known as the youngest geothermal valley in the world. It was formed by a volcanic eruption in 1886 in the North Island of New Zealand. Today, the valley has become an important tourist attraction.

Waimangu has the largest hot spring in the world, the incredible pale blue Inferno Crater Lake and even the largest geyser in the world (although it cannot be seen because it is at the bottom of a lake). New Zealand’s North Island is one of the best places to experience volcanic and hydrothermal attractions – a must-do is hiking the famous Tongariro Crossing.


The massive Tarawera eruption of 1886

The history of the Waimangu Valley and the Tarawera region is a fascinating story of superlatives, destruction and recreation. Prior to the 1886 eruption, the area was rapidly becoming a tourist destination. People flocked there to see hydrothermal wonders like the Waimangu Geyser – once the largest geyser in the world which erupted up to 450 meters (1,476 feet) into the air.

Once at home for the older one:

  • Geyser: Waimangu Geyser
  • Terraces: The pink and white terraces

Another attraction in the area was the pink and white terraces – forget the stunning terraces of Pamukkale in Turkey – these were said to be the largest terraces in the world. People bathed in these mineral waters, and they were touted as the 8th natural wonder of the world.

While these natural wonders were destroyed in the eruption, in their place new geothermal and volcanic wonders have sprung up.

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Waimangu – The youngest geothermal system in the world

Following the destruction of the ancient wonders – Waimangu – the youngest geothermal system in the world was created. The eruption of Mount Tarawera on June 10, 1886 was massive and carved a 17 km (10.5 mile) fault in the earth’s surface.

Today Waimangu is protected as a scenic reserve in New Zealand. The native forests of the region are still recovering from the complete devastation of volcanic eruptions.

Besides the other world of the valley, the attractions of the valley include:

  • Rotomahana Lake: Blown 20x bigger by eruption
  • Frying Pan Lake: The largest hot spring in the world
  • Inferno Crate Lake: Pale and smoky blue

There are a number of packages to choose from to experience the wonders of the Waimangu Valley or one can simply explore on their own.

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Full Day Waimangu Valley Tour

The Round Trip experience is one of the most complete packages. On the round trip, visitors will learn the stories of the famous Pink and White Terraces and the devastating Tarawera eruption.

The tour is a full-day excursion that includes round-trip transportation from the gateway city of Rotorua, a boat cruise on Rotomahana and Tarawera lakes, a visit to the buried village, and a guided walk through the valley Waimangu Volcano.

  • Duration: 7.5 hours
  • Price: From NZ$245 (US$155)
  • Pickup location: Central Rotorua
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The round trip is dedicated to providing a comprehensive tour of the stunning region. First, the tour heads for a guided walk through the valley to see a number of notable sites, then the tour embarks on a boat on Lake Rotomahana (and the resting place of the Pink and White Terraces) . During the cruise, passengers will see steaming cliffs, small geysers, and other hydrothermal activity.

Understand :

  • A guided walk through the volcanic valley of Waimangu
  • Packed lunch
  • Boat cruises on Rotomahana and Tarawera Lakes (inc. Hot Water Beach)
  • Walk on the track of the isthmus
  • Buried Village Experience

After the Lake Rotomahana cruise, hike the Isthmus Track. This is a short 1.5 km (1 mile) trail from Lake Rotomahana to Lake Tarawera and takes about 20-30 minutes to walk. It can be a bit strenuous as it rises 400 meters (1,310 feet) on a saddle.

Upon arrival at the jetty on Lake Tarawera, take another boat for an eco-tour on Lake Tarawera. Be amazed by the tales of the region – its history, its legends and its place in the local Maori culture. The boat tour also stops at Hot Water Beach where visitors can enjoy the hot springs.

The final attraction is the buried village which was destroyed by the powerful eruption. It was New Zealand’s first tourist hub.

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