Tauranga (Rotorua), New Zealand
Waimangu Volcanic Valley & Rainbow Springs
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Approximately 9 Hours
Visit the Waimangu Volcanic Valley -- one of Rotorua's premier attractions. It is a protected scenic reserve and wildlife refuge set in native forest. Waimangu means "black water" in Maori and comes from the color of the water that was thrown up by the famous Waimangu Geyser, which was blackened with mud and rocks.
With four fabulous hours to enjoy this wonderful natural landscape, follow your Waimangu guide on a walk along unpaved paths. Explore the geothermal wonders of Waimangu Volcanic Valley, considered by the locals to be the most beautiful place in New Zealand. The valley and Lake Rotomahana are fantastic examples of an ecosystem naturally re-establishing itself after a volcanic eruption. As with all geothermal regions, you will smell the hydrogen sulphide that permeates the atmosphere.
Next, board a tour boat for a leisurely cruise on Lake Rotomahana -- the youngest naturally-formed lake in New Zealand and the deepest on the North Island. Your guide will point out the many volcanic craters, lakeside geysers, steaming vents (where early Maori steamed their food) and rich bird life.
Enjoy a tasty buffet lunch at the Waimangu Cafe.
Back on the motorcoach, relax for a 45-minute drive through stunning countryside to Rainbow Springs. Here, your guide introduces you to the 135+ varieties of native trees and ferns that surround the clear trout pools. Observe the colorful exotic native birds in the aviaries, and visit the nocturnal house for a look at New Zealand's cute National Bird -- the kiwi.
The scenery continues to enthrall as you drive past the glorious Rotorua lakefront back to Tauranga and the ship.
As with all geothermal regions, the smell of hydrogen sulfide permeates the atmosphere.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. There are approximately 60 steps throughout Waimangu Volcanic Valley.