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Waikite Valley Thermal Pools

April 12th, 2010

waikite-new-zealand-thermal-pool.jpgNo visit to New Zealand is complete without a look at Rotorua. Famously the town of boiling mud and spouting geysers, Rotorua is also the place to learn something about Maori culture and art. Those who choose to spend a week or more in Rotorua will be rewarded not only by the local fascinations, but a number of other secrets in the surrounding land will be revealed.

One secret worth knowing is that within a half-hour drive on the main road to Taupo is the turn for the Waikite Valley thermal pools. The Ngati Kahu, Upoko and Tuhorangi peoples were familiar with the boiling river and pools, utilising the healing properties of the mineral pools for centuries. In 1969 the local community gained planning permission from Rotorua to develop the pools for the use of the community and visitors, opening the complex in 1972.

Today Waikite boasts six public pools, from a cooler splash pool suitable for swimming lengths to warmer soak pools of up to 40 degrees Celsius. Four private pools offer individually controlled temperatures overlooking the Waikite Valley. Under a protective sail or totally open to the sky and natural surroundings. aches and pains are soothed away, chilled joints warmed through, and the soul surrounded with natural beauty. Lie back and listen to the native birds chattering, watch a Tui explore the towering flowers of a flax plant, and see the boiling river hurtle over multi-hued, algae-covered rocks.

Heated by the Earth’s molten core, the water is lethally boiling as it emerges from the ground. It is guided down a series of terraces, losing heat naturally to the air as it flows. To assist the cooling process for swimming purposes Waikite also uses fountains, spraying the water up about 2 meters. Ranging from 37 to 40 degrees Celsius, the pools feel like huge warm baths. Full of mineral salts, the water is very buoyant and if you don’t anchor yourself to a rocky outcrop or handy bar, you will find your legs floating up from under you entirely of their own accord.

The facilities include basic changing rooms which also have private cubicles with showers. Toilets are unisex and disabled accessible. Open lockers are provided for storing clothes in sight or lockable cupboards are available. A cafe offers a tasty range of hot and cold food. A camping site next door offers both powered and unpowered sites and the fee includes unlimited use of the public pools. Picnic tables scattered around the main pool offer shaded seating for eating. The pools are drained every night and refilled for the morning and the water is kept flowing, ensuring a constantly clean supply with no added chemicals.

For the energetic there is a walk through native bush to Te Manaroa Spring, which is New Zealand’s largest single source of natural boiling water.

Prices are reasonable with family concessions available. A 12-month season ticket for 1 adult is $NZ100, $NZ150 for a couple, or $NZ200 for a family (2 adults and 2 children).

Whatever the weather, a swim at Waikite should not be missed. There’s a special feeling about being up to the neck in healing warmth while the open sky drips cool rain.


This article was supplied by A. D. Potter from Constant Content.


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