Claimed to be the “beast” of all the geothermal parks, Hells Gate lived up to its’ name on the day we visited this sprawling 50 acres of rumbling and steaming activity.
There were many warning signs along the way, but we were quite happy to stay on the paths as we walked through swirling clouds of steam where we saw pools of boiling mud and water erupting from the hottest of one of many pools, with a surface temperature of 122 degrees Celsius.
We looked in awe at the “hell like” landscape and could understand why playwright George Bernard Shaw gave the reserve its famous name of “Hells Gate”.
This was followed by a bush walk, in stark contrast, containing many of New Zealand’s native trees and plants leading to Kakahi Falls – the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere, with a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Celsius. The sulphur in the water aided the healing of wounds of warriors returning from battle and the first Europeans used the waters of the waterfall for the purposes of healing many ailments, such as arthritis, rheumatism, skin diseases and muscle disorders.
Massages, mud and sulphur spas were on offer but as that day was rather cold, I opted for the warm waters of the foot mud pool instead.