The first thing you notice when you arrive in Rotorua isn’t the natural beauty; it’s the smell. A note of Sulphur is evident all across town, and it is strongest at the sands of Sulphur Point. This constantly shifting geothermal wetland is home to 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. Signed placards explain the volcanic action. For a more informed look and a unique point of view, hop aboard a jet boat for a high-speed ride on Lake Rotorua while the driver points out the geothermal features of Sulphur Bay. Visitors can also enjoy an aquatic adventure on an amphibious Duck boat tour, which travels past Government Gardens before making a splash.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The water in the bay at Sulphur Point is unsafe for swimming.
- Bird-watchers should bring binoculars to see a wealth of different species.
- Stroll the area on your own, or select from among city sightseeing, amphibious Duck, or jet boat tours.
How to Get There
The shores of Lake Rotorua can be found only 10 minutes north of downtown by car. Sulphur Point is situated at Lake Rotorua’s southern end, and is reached via a walking path behind the Government Gardens. There are multiple places to begin the trail, and the round-trip walk along the lakeshore can take as long as two hours. A hop-on hop-off tour of Rotorua highlights includes stops at the lakefront and Sulphur Point.
When to Get There
On a misty morning, a lakeside stroll past Sulphur Point can have an eerie feel that is accompanied by the gurgle of mud, and on any day this is an affordable way to explore the volcanic sights. Sunrise and sunset are especially good times to take photos from shore.
What Is That Smell?
From the moment you set foot in this North Island hot spot, a pungent smell like rotten eggs seems to waft in the air like a cloud. Don’t worry; it doesn’t take long to get used to the distinctive scent, which is the result of fresh sulphur and the Earth’s volcanic flux. Here, sulphur particles suspended in the shallows turn the water a milky white.