The main area of geothermal activity at Waiotapu Geothermal Field is part of a scenic reserve and is legally protected. It is New Zealand’s most colourful thermal area.
Waiotapu is the most colourful thermal area in New Zealand. It has five known geysers, hot springs, mud pools, fumaroles, craters, and steaming ground.
Several hot springs deposit sinters. Two of the springs are unique in New Zealand for very different reasons.
The first, Champagne Pool, is a large spring approximately 30 m wide, which is actively growing two hectares of sinter terrace. The second, Hakareteke Geyser, is the only sinter-depositing geyser with acidic waters in New Zealand.
The rare thermal fern Cyclosaurus interruptus is present.
This field is possibly connected to the Waikite and Waimangu fields. The Waimangu field is mostly located in the Bay of Plenty Region.
In the 1890s, prisoners (from a prison located on what is now the Waiotapu School camp site) used to wash their clothes and themselves in a hot spring. They found that when soap was added to the water it made the spring geyser. The spring has since been ‘soaped’ for tourists since the 1900s and was named the Lady Knox Geyser after a notable visitor to the site.
These features are located in a scenic reserve and are legally protected. Waiotapu is part of the Waikite - Waiotapu - Waimangu geothermal system, which is classified as protected by Waikato Regional Council.
Waiotapu is a popular tourist attraction. Near the Champagne Pool, tourist foot traffic is damaging the ground, and boardwalks would help to prevent further damage.