Wai-O-Tapu is Maori name that literally means "sacred waters". This name refers to one of the world's oldest and most famous geothermal parks. Its first visitors started coming in the late 1880s, and nowadays it remains one of New Zealand's most unique natural attraction. What makes this park particularly attractive to tourists, is a number of coloured pools. Their nice palette is good for viewing, but not appropriate for bathing. The lakes are too hot for that—water temperature in each lake is at least 60°C.
The only exception is the Devil's Bath—this is the only pool that doesn't steam, but its green to yellow colouring along with the lovely name are rather alarming than welcoming. This water is extremely acidic owing to a great content of sulphur. So even though being cool, the pool isn't suitable for swimming neither.
The Champagne Pool enjoys the greatest popularity. It is 60 m deep, and its main feature is it's the hottest basin found in the park, boasting stable 74°C.
Another bright highlight of the area is Artist's Palette set right beside the Champagne Pool. It astonishes with a variety of colour shades.
Besides the coloured pools, people also come to see bubbling muds, steaming ground and above all—the eruption of Lady Knox Geyser which occurs on a daily basis in the morning. The show is really short-lasting, so you are advised to arrive at 9:30 am not to miss it.
All in all, the area is beautiful and accessible year-round, even in the rain. The only drawback of the latter is worse photography. For the sake of great shots visit the park is the least rainy season—in the north of New Zealand most of the rain falls in winter, so spring to autumn will be a better choice, that's virtually October to April.
The thermal wonderland is located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, some half an hour drive from Rotorua.