I went on the guided tour through Rotorua’s most active thermal park, Hells Gate. We passed a variety of different thermal features. From mud pools and mud volcanoes to the largest hot waterfall, Kakahi falls, in the Southern Hemisphere. In the past warriors took a bath in there which helped their wounds to heal, due to the sulphur I the water. The sulphur is also the reason for the yellow colour all over the place. Thinking of sulphur being used in matches it gets obvious why the yellow area has black spots. The sulphur and the heat of the sunlight led to a fire.
The most amazing thing I learned about the hot pools is definitely that all of them have their own hot water reservoir underneath, so even if they are really close to each other they won’t be the same temperature and ph. The pools were all named different,e.g. the Huritini Pool, named after a Maori Princess who killed herself after she had married an abusive and violent man. For not endangering her family she threw herself in one of the mud pools, being 68 degrees hot and having a pH of 3.5.
In general, we saw many huge pools in the 50 acres area but we also got the chance to see how the earth changes; our guide showed us pools that were really young. Our guide told us that each morning the paths are checked for new pools so that no visitors will be endangered. Moreover, he always walked in front of us checking the floor with a stick.
There were so many magical things in the park I wouldn’t have seen walking around the park alone. For example, our guide drew a circle on the floor and we were supposed to touch the soil next to it. It was warm. He told us how we would burn our hands touching the earth in the circle. Another magical experience was walking through a gate that didn’t seem magical at all. However, as soon as you were on the other side the temperature decreased and the air was clean, no smell of sulphur anymore. Instead, we were walking in a green forest, learning about the use of the silver fern as a direction sign. I was more than once surprised by the contrasts and little (beauty) secrets of the park and its mud.
At the end of the tour, everyone got the chance to try carving a little piece of wood to take back home afterwards.
Then, finally, it was time for the mud spa. Prepared with my bikini and my towel I went into the spa area providing showers, dressing rooms, mud pools and the sulphur spa to relax afterwards. Before you enter the pool you should definitely take off all your jewellery. Otherwise, it will be black afterwards. In the warm pool, there are boxes from which you can take the mud and apply it on your body leaving out your top half of the face, especially your eyes. The next twenty minutes you don’t have to worry about anything, just relax. The staff was really nice and took pictures of us when we asked for it.
In the sulphur spa, we also got a cold glass of water to compensate for our loss of water due to the heat.
I was really sad when I had to leave the spa to get back on the shuttle. However, the souvenir shop offered a lot of homemade and unique products so you could take the spa feeling home.
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