There is no need to hide the truth; Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland smells horribly. The smell of sulphur gases hits you like a wall as soon as you get out of your car. Because the smell was so strong, it got caught in the clothes so I had to get changed afterwards.
Upon entering the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, you get a small brochure with a map showing the intended route through the park, and interesting information about why the water has different colours. Sadly, I lost the brochure somewhere along my travels in New Zealand, but to sum it up, the colours represent different mixtures of minerals and chemicals.
It’s crazy how much the minerals can influence the colour of the water in Wai-O-Tapu. Because of the minerals, the water could be everything from bright green to a strong orange — or even black. But even with the beautiful colours, it was impossible to ignore the smell of sulphur. If you don’t know how sulphur smells, it’s pretty much like a mix between farts and rotten eggs. Yuck.
Wai-O-Tapu has a geyser!
Every single day at 10.15 AM, there is a geyser eruption at Wai-O-Tapu. At that time, a couple of employees go to the geyser to explain a few things about the process and history of the area. Because Wai-O-Tapu is a big tourist attraction, they have built a big area almost like a primitive stadium with only one side so about 100 people could theoretically see it at once. I imagine it’s completely filled up in the summer, but because I visited during the winter, only about 30 people were at the geyser.
Once the employees are done explaining everything, they pour something similar to soap into the geyser. That kickstarts a chemical reaction which makes the geyser erupt. The fact that the geyser can be counted on every day at 10.15 AM is because of the soap. If they didn’t pour it in, the geyser would still erupt from time to time, but more inconsistently. In the video below is the recording I made when I was there. I included the speech from the employees before the eruption if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
I loved the intense colours everywhere at Wai-O-Tapu, and would definitely recommend everyone to visit if you’re on the North Island of New Zealand. Remember to bring extra clothes because the smell of rotten eggs and farts will stick!