The first thing you notice when you arrive in Rotorua isn’t the natural beauty; instead—it’s the smell. From the moment you set foot in this North Island hot spot, the pungent smell of rotten eggs seems to waft in the air like a cloud. Don’t worry— it doesn’t take long to get used to the smell, and it’s actually the result of fresh sulphur and the Earth’s volcanic flux.
While the smell is noticeable all across town, nowhere is the sulphur more beautifully evident than at the sands of Sulphur Point. Here, on Lake Rotorua’s southern end, sulphur particles suspended in the shallows turn the water a milky white. The constantly shifting geothermal wetland houses 60 species of birds, which somehow survive the warm waters and boiling, earthy minerals. Follow the boardwalk around the point to find steaming mud pools and vents, and signed placards along the boardwalk explain the volcanic action. On a misty morning, this lakeside stroll can have an eerie feel that is accompanied by the gurgle of mud, and on any day this is an affordable way to experience the volcanic sights.
Sulphur Point is accessed by a trail behind the Government Gardens. There are multiple places to access the trail, and the roundtrip walk along the lakeshore can take as long as two hours. The water in the bay is unsafe for swimming, and birdwatchers should bring binoculars for the wealth of different species.