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Nowadays, Whakarewarewa can be regarded as the heart of Māoridom on earth. Its full name is Te Whakarewarewa-tanga-o-te-ope-taua-a-Wāhiao, meaning The Uprising of the War Party of Wāhiao. Unlike most others, the village could preserve much of its original atmosphere because it was a stronghold that has never been taken in battle since it was founded in 1325.

In common with a few other Māori settlements, the Tuhourangi/Ngāti Wāhiao people in Whakarewarewa integrated the abundant geothermal features on location into their daily life. Until today hot springs are used for purposes of heating, cooking, washing, bathing, recovery and, at least in the past, also for ceremonies. But neither these usages nor structural alterations by Māori caused damage to the springs, in contrast to later exploitation by the industrial society.
Because of the close relationship of the Māori with the thermal features most of the spings got an own name. If you visit Whakarewarewa you may find names on signs in front of some important hot springs and also in the tour pamphlet. But the majority of the names are not signposted. I have acquired two maps which have helped me to find some of the missing names. The older but less extensive and less precise one is part of The Geology of the Rotorua-Taupo Subdivision, Rotorua and Kaimanawa Divisions, New Zealand Geological Survey bulletin 37, 1937, by Leslie I. Grange. It is the only one to show Paddlewheel Geyser, however, due to the sketchy style of the map I was unable to determine the position somewhere near Korotiotio sufficiently precise to assign this old name to a known feature. The most comprehensive and most accurate available map has been published by Edward F. Lloyd in Geology of the Whakarewarewa hot springs, NZ Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Information Series No. 11, 1975. This book is also the scientific standard work for the hydrothermal features of Whakarewarewa.

As might be expected from a stronghold, an archway followed by a bridge over Puarenga Stream (Floating Blossom) represents the entrance to Whakarewarewa. On the lefthand (east) side of the entrance bridge the large Whakamanu Geyser was located on the southern bank of Puarenga Stream in front of a cliff. According to Lloyd, the now extinct geyser once played up to 30 m (98 feet) high. There are only very few pictures known of Whakamanu, the most prominent among them is an undated painting by the British artist John Hoyte (1835 – 1913). He lived and worked in New Zealand from 1860 to 1876.

Whakamanu Geyser by John Hoyte
Whakamanu Geyser by John Hoyte (public domain image from Wikimedia Commons, scanned by Szilas)

In the past the vent of Whakamanu usually was submerged by the stream and the rare eruptions did only occur when the water was low. Nowadays the bank, apparently including the position of the geyser, is reinforced with rocks. Even if the viewing direction is from the other side, when comparing the current locality with the painting it appears that so much has changed that one can hardly believe to be in the right place. On the other hand, I have never heard or read of a second large geyser in New Zealand called Whakamanu, so any mix-up seems very unlikely. Thus it cannot be ruled out that the painting features some degree of artistic freedom.

Site of Whakamanu Geyser at Puarenga Stream
Site of Whakamanu Geyser on the righthand side atop a terrace at Puarenga Stream

After passing the bridge you come across a museum-like setting with a restored Wharepuni (Sleeping House) in close vicinity to a deep crevice, on whose ground a boiling hot spring can be spotted. This is a perfect scenery to illustrate how close the people of Whakarewarewa in the past lived to and with the hot springs. The spring in the crevice bears the name Waitatara (Water in the Triton Shell).

Waitatara and Wharepuni
Waitatara and Wharepuni

Southwest beyond Waitatara an area called Rahui (Reserve) provides many hot springs for cooking and bathing. Some of them are quite large and prominent, others are small, inconspicuous or almost hidden from view. Nevertheless, all of them are named due to their central functions and location within the village. The largest and probably most eye-catching one when entering the Rahui area is the deep blue Parekohuru (Murderous Rippling Waters). The name reflects the characteristic of the spring: every 45 - 60 minutes the pool pulsates and the dangerous, 95-99 °C (203-210 °F) hot water rises by up to 75 cm (2.5 feet) and overflows. As of 2001 also the powerful boiling surges have returned, which were known to have accompanied the overflow before 1979. European researchers of the 19th century did not care about the Māori names and called the spring Champagne Pool because of the ascending steam bubbles during the phases of boiling. As inherited from the past still today Parekohuru is used to cook traditional food.


Northeast of Parekohuru the extinct Hauriri Geyser (may be translated as Furious Wind) is located inside a fenced-in area. On a first look only some chunks of old sinter stand out, shrouded in steam and drained by a little runoff channel. From outside the fence Hauriri's vent is hard to spot and only a few visitors take notice of the setting. Eruptions were up to 3 m (10 feet) high but suffered a natural standstill even before geothermal exploitation started in Rotorua.

Hauriri Geyser
Hauriri Geyser

From Parekohuru the trail leads westward to Korotiotio (Grumpy Old Man). This deep blue pool is ornamented by an impressive, massive rim of distinctively colorful and variform sinter structures. They indicate a long time of continuous or almost uninterupted activity as a geyser. The early 20th century tourist guide Maggie Papakura reported that Korotiotio had been used for cooking until in the 1870s the Māori woman Iriaka slipped into the pool and died. After the fatality the pool never again was used for cooking purposes but was declared to a sacred place.


Standing in front of the deep blue pool, the name becomes immediately comprehensible. Korotiotio's water is at boiling temperature or, according to the official tour pamphlet, sometimes even superheated up to 120 °C (248 °F). In the superheated stage the pool boils extensively, otherwise often a 30-60 cm (1-2 foot) high fountain grumbles along next to the south rim. On our visit the fountain was intermittently playing with quiet intervals lasting several minutes (as caught in the picture above), so in the strict sense Korotiotio acted as a geyser. And precisely this is what Korotiotio also had been in the historical past, before the spring ceased all surface overflows and eruptions in 1980.

Korotiotio's south vent erupting

Across the trail from Korotiotio the small spring Uepo, of which I took no photo, is quite unremarkable. Immediately adjacent to Korotiotio to the north are the four Purerehua Pools (Butterfly Pools). They are small and partly hard to spot. The people of Whakarewarewa observed that a drop of the water level is often followed by a weather change, so they use them as a weather forecaster.

Northernmost Purerehua Pool

Still a bit further towards the north on the other side of the trail the Waipuru Spring (Immerse) and the Oil Baths are to be found. Waipuru once was used to sterilise textiles while the Oil Baths are the communal baths for the residents. I decided not to include pictures of both utilised features here. So the next photo shows a large sinter surface coloured by discharged water from Korotiotio and Purerehua on its way in northeastern direction to Waikorua Spring (Waterhole) in the right background. The straight structure running though the centre of the picture is a drain.

Colourful sinter area in front of Waikorua Spring

There are a lot of further hot springs and mud pots interspersed between the houses within the village center, which immediately adjoins the Rahui to the south. Like the springs in the Rahui area they all carry names such as Te Haroharo, Ngungukai, Rereawaho, Te Waro-a-Ngawai or Hineata. Since they sit next to private houses and apparently none of the springs is or was a geyser, I forewent taking photos for the website.
We left the village in southern direction for the four so-called Hilltop Lookout Points. Along the way, directly at the southern border of the settlement, we came across a large mud pool and the busy mud spouter Pirihoa (Loyal Friend) at the foot of the Whakarewarewa cemetery hill.

Mud Pool
Unnamed mud pool and the spouter Pirihoa in right background

Close-up of Pirihoa

From there, the trail leads in southeastern direction to the Hilltop Lookout Points. The northernmost one provides an excellent view over three differently coloured thermal lakelets adjacent to Whakarewarewa village. On the picture the jade green Te Kiri (The Bark) can be seen on the left (south) side, the yellowish Miri (Twist) occupies the centre and the beige Pikopikowhiti (Winding Crossing) follows to the right. On the left side behind Pikopikowhiti the bare area with the above described mud pool and the spouter Pirihoa becomes visible in outlines. In the right background of the picture the view goes from Whakarewarewa village to Rotorua and further to Lake Rotorua, while in the left background the geyser plumes of Te Puia can be spotted. Beyond Te Puia the volcano Mount Ngongotahā (Drinking from a Calabash) is looming on the horizon.

Te Kiri, Miri, and Pikopikowhiti
The lakelets Te Kiri, Miri, and Pikopikowhiti

Climbing the next Hilltop Lookout Point farther south opens the view at another lakelet. It bears the long name Ko-te-wai-o-te Parewharangi. By a kind of naive 1:1 translation this could mean "Water on the far side of the crest with the Wharangi Tree", or something completely different. The shallow pool is directly accessible by a walkway from Te Puia, which adjoins to the right (northwest).

Ko-te-wai-o-te Parewharangi
Ko-te-wai-o-te Parewharangi

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