Pōhutu Geyser, Wahakarewarewa Thermal Valley. © muha04

Pōhutu Geyser: the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere


Depending on who you believe, ‘Pōhutu’ means ‘big splash’, ‘explosion’ or the more gentle ‘constant splashing’.

All descriptions are accurate in their own way; none really reflects the sheer unrelenting power of this, the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. ‘Active’, too, is an understatement.

The massive Pōhutu Geyser is like the rest of Rotorua on steroids. Think Kanye having a meltdown.

It’s big, and it blows its top about twenty times a day. Each explosion of hissing, sulphurous steam can last anywhere between ten and twenty minutes – which means, for the instant-gratification generation, there’s no hanging around hoping you might catch a glimpse of something exciting. Pōhutu lives up to all of its names and delivers, with frightening and electrifying consistency. Like the rest of Rotorua, it’s a reminder that there’s an awful lot of activity going on in the ground beneath your feet. This powerful harnessing of natural energy will give you a great respect for the earth that you walk upon.

The geyser itself is part of the most excellent Te Puia. There are 500-odd hot springs within the reserve and another 60-plus geysers besides the thundering Pōhutu. There’s a fine Māori cultural centre here, with traditional weavers and carvers; their artefacts are available to buy and there are some genuinely beautiful greenstone pieces and traditional carvings on offer. The traditional Māori village showcases some great historical recreations, too.

But, well, some like it hot... and for that, get yourself a good look at Pōhutu and the other spectacular geysers. They blow, bro, in a good way.

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