Waimangu Volcanic Valley (New Zealand) in New Zealand draws visitors from all corners of the earth. Photographers come for the colours, tourists for the uniqueness, hikers for nature, and scientists to study the world’s youngest geothermal system.
It’s a virtually untouched, ever-changing landscape that was created in just four hours in 1886. The eruption of Mt Tarawera created this valley (also called the Tarawera Rift), enlarged Lake Rotomahana, and destroyed the famous Pink and White Terraces. At the same time, leaving nature a clean slate to rebuild.
Formation of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley – ‘How the World Began’
June 10, 1886 started out as a normal day in the central North Island of New Zealand. Visitors arrived in what is now the Waimangu Volcanic Valley to see the famous Pink and White Terraces. Suddenly, and without warning, Mount Tarawera exploded in what became the largest recorded of New Zealand volcanic eruptions.
In just four hours, everything changed and 120 people died. With the landscape wiped out and the 17-kilometre long Waimangu Volcanic Rift formed, nature had a blank canvas to regenerate a new ecosystem. Today, scientists (and everyone) who visits get a window into how the world began.
Waimangu is a peaceful place. A space so big that walking through we rarely saw anyone else. We found the general manager’s comment to be true, “Look ahead and behind, the park is yours.”
Be inspired . . .
Our Self-Guided Walk Thru the Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Understanding the history makes the experience stronger, so be sure to follow the Waimangu Volcanic Valley Map and guide that is provided when you enter.
⇒ Click here for Waimangu entry only tickets or check below for tickets that include a Lake Rotomahana cruise.
Pink and White Terraces
This photo predates the Mount Tarawera eruption which left the Pink and White Terraces under the enlarged Lake Rotomahana.
Sailing on Lake Rotomahana, An Active Volcanic Crater
One option available at Waimangu Valley is to explore from Lake Rotomahana via boat. The continuous commentary was fascinating and our captain was available to answer questions. He did point out when we over the Pink and White terraces, now only remnants, fully submerged under 60 metres of water.
Images from our time on the boat
Where is the Waimangu Volcanic Valley?
Located just south Rotorua, Waimangu on the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. It is best accessed with a car or a tour.
Prefer a Tour?
If you’re a person or family that prefer a tour or don’t have a car, these are the best we could find:
|Waimangu Volcanic Valley with Options for Wai-O-Tapu, Hobbiton or Whakarewarewa||Waimangu Volcanic Valley|
Option to add: Hobbiton, Waiotapu, Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village, or Huka Falls in afternoon
|3.5 to 9 hrs|
|Rotorua Eco Thermal Small Group Morning Tour||Guided tour of Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley||5 hrs|
|Waitid-O-Tapu, Waimangu & Te Puia Day Tour||Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland|
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Te Puia Maori Culture and Geothermal Wonders
Practical Information on Visiting the Waimangu Volcanic Valley
- Entrance to the Visitor Centre for the Waimangu Volcanic Valley is about 25 km south of Rotorua in the Central North Island of New Zealand. It is a must-see on the North Island.
- Be sure to pick up a Waimangu Volcanic Valley Map at the visitor’s centre before you set out on your walk, or download a map here.
- The main walking trail is about 4km and leads from the visitor centre to Lake Rotomahana.
- If you don’t want to walk all or any of the trail, there is a shuttle bus to the lake that makes several pick up stops along the way.
- Allow at least two hours if you only want to walk, at least 3.5 if you are planning to include the 45-minute boat trip.
- There are several walking options as well as a shuttle bus between selected points. We opted to walk from the entrance the 1.5 km to Bus Stop 1 and then take the shuttle bus to the boat dock.
- The boat takes only 35 people six times per day, so it is recommended to book in advance.
A visit to Waimangu Volcanic Valley is one of several surreal experiences available when in Rotorua New Zealand. Waimangu is one of my two favourite geothermal attractions. There are also a few free geothermal option.
Planning tips for your visit to the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua
We often have affiliate partnerships with companies that we trust and recommend. We receive a small compensation if you make a purchase using these links. In some cases, the links can save you up to 70%.
First-time visitors start here: New Zealand travel guide or with our favourite New Zealand road trips.
Rental Vehicles: For cars, we always use RentalCars.com, a rental car search engine with no hidden costs. However, we recommend Spaceships Rentals NZ for campervans.
**Albom Adventures readers can use your Visa card for 10% off Spaceships campervans this winter.**
Accommodations: In the Bay of Plenty, we stay and recommend a beachfront villa at Papamoa Beach Resort or the Rotorua Lakeside Novotel.
Activity Discounts: We use Bookme.co.nz to find discounts on entry tickets and tours in New Zealand.
Travel Insurance: We purchase insurance that covers medical and travel emergencies when we head overseas. We start with World Nomads.
Packing Tips: Get a free copy of our New Zealand packing list when you sign up for our mailing list.
**Find more money-saving resources on our Travel Resources page.
If you enjoyed this article and images, please share on social media including Pinterest:
Have you visited the Waimangu Volcanic Valley?
You might also like:
- What to Do in Rotorua New Zealand: A First Timer’s Guide
- Wai-O-Tapu: A Photo Review of Geothermal Rotorua New Zealand
- Free Things to do in Rotorua New Zealand
- 25 Fun Things to do in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui
- Kiwifruit Country: See What We Found on a New Zealand Kiwi Fruit Farm
Disclaimer: We worked with Destination Rotorua, the local tourism board. We were provided with complimentary entrances, tours and sample items to assist in the writing of this review. The opinions expressed here are strictly our own.