Enjoying mud bath spa at Hell’s Gate, Rotorua – Travels in New Zealand
We are becoming quite the expert on Rotorua, New Zealand! This will be our third visit to this popular geothermal region of New Zealand and we have been to several of the key attractions here and few off the beaten path spots as well. Now we can add Hell’s Gate, termed as the “AWESOME BEAST” of New Zealand Geothermal attractions to that!
Some of our previous favourite spots include swimming in the steaming waterfalls of Kerosene Creek. Kids loved Skyline Gondola and Luge and we all had a great time experiencing Maori performance and seeing bursting geysers at Te Puia. We can recommendation several good restaurants and places to stay here as well, if anyone is interested!
This trip we did a marathon tour of several places in the North Island as my father in law is visiting from Bangladesh and he wanted to see as much as possible. We went to Waitamo glowworm caves, Lake Taupo, the Rotorua region and Coromandel Peninsula over 4 days. There is so much diversity in landscape and such fascinating geological features all over New Zealand!
One of the highlights from this trip was our relaxing mud bath spa at Hell’s Gate, Rotorua and I can definitely add that to one of our favourite experience in this region 🙂 Tikitere is the Maori name for this park and surrounding area and there is a fascinating story behind this name of the young Maori Princess called Hurutini who threw herself into one of the hot boiling pools. When George Bernard Shaw had visited here in the early 1900s, and observed the boiling mudpools and steaming sulfurous lakes, he decided this must be the gateway to hell and its English name has been Hell’s Gate ever since.
Here are the highlights of Hell’s Gate and why we found this place so unique:
Before we indulged in the spa experience, we did a walk around the reserve. According to history, the Ngati Rangiteaorere tribe had lived here for more than 700 years and valued the special healing properties of its sulfurous lakes and special mud properties. The walk takes about 45-60 minutes and you get to see several bubbling mudpools, volcanic craters, steaming sulfurous lakes, and hot waterfalls. There are three types of geothermal mud all with its own physical and chemical properties. Black Mud is used in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.
Besides the harsh geological features of the craters, rocks and lakes, there is also a lovely bushwalk through rich dense greenery which eventually lead to more geothermal activities. The paths were well signposted and there were benches to rest at along the way.
After we were done with the walk we went in for our relaxing and fun spa experience. First there was the mud bath spa which included 3 semi-private geothermal mud baths. Ours was just for the five of us and there were two other 3-people mud baths. Once you enter the spa area, you are given towels and boxes to put your clothes in. You are advised on health and safety and allowed 20 minutes in the mud bath (for safety reasons). There is a box area by the mud pool where you scoop fresh mud and lather all over your body and face, avoiding the eyes. Then you just lie back and enjoy the 37 degree water temperatures! The kids and grownups in our group loved the experienced, I think the pictures below say it all 🙂
After the mud bath spa you can get into any of the 3 sulphurous spas overlooking the Hells Gate geothermal reserve. One of them is really large and the other two smaller ones overlooking the reserve. Cold drinking water is available all the time as it is easy to get dehydrated in all that heat! The water temperature was about 37 degrees, very hot but super refreshing with the cold air outside and the greenery all around.
You can also get private mud facial and other therapy sessions including a miri miri massage but we didn’t book into any of these. Looked quite tempting though!
Some useful bits of information for anyone wanting to visit Hell’s Gate –
Located in central Rotorua, just 15 minutes drive from Rotorua I Site. If not travelling by car, there are shuttles buses that do 3 pickups from the city centre.
Costs varied depending on which package you choose amongst all the different activities one can do here. For e.g just the geothermal walk around the reserve, takes about 45 minutes cost $35 an adult and $85 for a family of four. You can also do just the mud bath spa and sulfur spa which costs $75 – adult, $185 – family. The package we did which combines the two cost $90 an adult and $215 for the family. We spent around 3-4 hours total including coffee and cake at their lovely cafe.
You can bring your own swimsuits and towels but they can be rented as well for $5 a piece.
Children over the age of 2 are welcome. The key is to keep kids (and adults) hydrated during the spa experience and there is staff available the whole time to provide cold water and help if needed. Both our kids loved it!
After nearly 3 hours, we finished our tour and spa experienced, relaxed and rejuvenated, and headed off to Coromandel peninsula for the remainder of our travels around North Island. I enjoy spa experiences and even though Hell’s Gate is not a luxury spa, it is very authentic and allows one to experience experience the natural geothermal mud and sulphur water of Tikitere.
Disclaimer We were offered complimentary passes for Hell’s Gate but as always, all opinions are my own. We would honestly recommend this unique experience to all travellers.