Geothermal Valley – Te Whakarewarewa
Every day in Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley geysers erupt, mud pools bubble and steam hisses. Over 500 pools and 65 geyser vents, each with their own name, are found in the Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley in Rotorua. Many magnificent geysers are active here, the most famous geyser, Pohutu (big splash or explosion), erupts up to 30 metres high depending on her mood.
There are few places in the world where geothermal phenomena such as geysers and mud pools are as extensive and accessible as in Rotorua. In the past, Māori regarded such phenomena as gifts from the gods. According to local Māori, the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley was one of the sites where Te Pupu and Te Hoata, the Goddesses of Fire, emerged from the earth’s core while trying to find their brother Ngatoroirangi, who was stranded on Mount Tongariro. As they rose to the surface looking for their brother, they left part of the fire they carried, creating geysers, hot springs and mud pools, leaving Te Whakarewarewa with the geothermal activity that remains today.
Tracks in the valley are checked daily for signs of new geothermal activity and while safety is paramount, so is conservation. Native birds are an important part of life in the valley, and more than 500 different varieties of flora support the ecological system.
Te Puia, ancient Māori stronghold
It is here that the Te Puia pā (fortress) once stood, a stronghold never taken in battle. The first occupants of the valley, known as the ‘dragon slayers’, lived here early in the fourteenth century. Today, descendants of the original Te Puia inhabitants still live here, guiding visitors through a landscape over 40,000 years old.
Guided by stories
Since the late 1800′s the enjoyment of the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley has been heightened by the activities of a remarkable group of women, the official guides who have conducted millions of visitors through the valley. Affection for these women carried to every corner of the globe. Their knowledge and immaculate presentation of their culture was a result of a long apprenticeship under the guidance of the older, more experienced women. Their legacy carries on today, with many of today’s guides at Te Puia descending directly from these world-renowned figures. Guided tours at Te Puia leave on the hour and are approximately 90 minutes long.