Rotorua is part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, a geothermal field extending from White Island off the Bay of Plenty Coast to Mt Ruapehu far to the south.
Geothermal features include volcanic crater lakes, spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools, hissing fumaroles, colourful sinter terraces, hot waters and much more which are sure to impress
Rotorua’s volcanic activity has drawn visitors to the geothermal wonders since the 1800s.
Maori geothermal legends
There are few places in the world where geothermal phenomena of such intensity, is as extensive and easily seen as here in Rotorua. To those in the past who had none of the science or technology that we have today, this bounty of nature must indeed have been regarded as a gift from the gods.
• The earliest legends speak of a man named Ngatoroirangi, a tohunga (priest) who guided the Te Arawa canoe to this country. Exploring the area, he climbed one of the central North Island’s mountains Tongariro. At its snowy peak, he nearly died – so he called on his sisters in far off in Hawaiki who sent the fire demons to go to their brother’s aid. In every place the fire demons surfaced on the way, they left a steaming, bubbling trail of thermal activity in their wake, till they reached and revived him. He named the mountain Tongariro to commemorate the cold south wind that almost killed him. And so it is that volcanic and thermal activity came to the region and Rotorua’s Te Arawa tribe became its guardian. Source: Te Whakarewarewa by Don Stafford. To experience this Rotorua legend, go see the Rotorua stories movie at the Rotorua Museum.
• The Maori people consider themselves guardians of the geothermal resource. Every one of the hot mineral springs that bubble up in Rotorua is known and named by Maori.
• The waters are known as Waiariki, itself a term of high honour. It means water of the gods although it is interpreted as hot spring. These waters are also regarded by Maori as treasures - taonga.
• To find out more visit this geothermal history information at RotoruaNZ.com