1 / 2
The northern end of Rotorua has a public park that is definitely alive and well. Walking tracks lead to numerous areas of vigorous geothermal activity. Provided you stay on the cool side of the safety fences, visitors are generally quite safe.
New eruptions do occur from time to time, so it pays to err on the side of caution. In 2001 mud and rocks the size of footballs were suddenly hurled 10 metres into the air as a new steam vent spontaneously announced its arrival. Two years later, similar eruptions provided a real bonus for delighted visitors.
In early Maori times the small lake in the park was much cooler and was known as Taokahu. Legend tells us that a beautiful young woman named Kuiarau was bathing in the waters when a taniwha (legendary creature) dragged her to his lair below the lake. The gods above were angered and made the lake boil so the Taniwha would be destroyed forever. From that time on, the bubbling lake and the steaming land around it have been known by the name of the lost woman, although the spelling has changed a little.