Wallowing in Waikete Hot Pools

We’d picked up a brochure for the Waikete Hot Pools in the info place in Rotorua. And spotted that they had motorhome sites on site, with free use of the hot pools. So we decided that a day there would be good relaxation before heading off north. So on Monday 22nd June we headed out of Rotorua. About half an hour south we found the turnoff to the Waikete Valley, and were soon at the hot pools. It is a lovely complex, well developed, with a number of different pools with a range of temperatures and depths and outlooks. They are out in the countryside, with a beautiful rural outlook. Running past is a steaming stream somewhere in amongst steaming flaxes. A couple of the pools have outlets at water level, so you sit immersed to your shoulders, looking across the top of the water beyond the flaxes to green fields and trees. It wasn’t long before we were relaxing and enjoying the pools. We meant to go back after tea but we were so relaxed we never made it.
Next morning there was the expected frost, so we made a slow start to the day. We were getting so relaxed we decided to stay another day. We had a look at the hot water spring, through all the clouds of steam. It is the largest hot water spring in the country, about 50 litres of 98 deg C water bubbles up every second. They have to go to quite a lot of effort to cool it down enough to use in the hot pools.
In the afternoon we took the car back down valley and parked up and walked up Rainbow Mountain. This is an interesting mountain, with coloured volcanic soils. It has a crater lake down the bottom, and steaming holes all over the place. It took a bit over an hour to the top, and we were rewarded with a fabulous view. We could see a number of the lakes in the Rotorua area, and down south we could see a snowy Mt Ruapehu. We zoomed back down, and headed back to our hot pools.
That night there was a freezing fog, and we woke to a hoar frost in the morning. I’ve always wanted to see one, and I had to come to Rotorua to manage it! The bushes were frozen white, the ground was frozen white, the trees were frozen white, it was cold. My sandals on the ground were frozen white, sort of growing crystals. I put a thermometer on top of them, and it froze as well! It was showing -3 degrees. Even around the steaming pools the vegetation was white. The fog took a long time to lift, and we were in the hot pools by then. The water was 39 degrees and the water temperature was less than zero! Eventually we dragged ourselves from the water and got ourselves organised to leave. It really was time to head north, so far all we’d managed was east and south from Katikati. Luckily I’d rigged up the A-frame the previous evening, otherwise I’d have ended up frozen as well. We could see that away from the valley it was a lovely sunny day and we were keen to enjoy it. Finally we were stowed and ship-shape and hooked up, and we were off – north for the winter.

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