Coordinates: 38°9′44″S 176°15′23″E / 38.16222°S 176.25639°E / -38.16222; 176.25639
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Aerial view of Whakarewarewa; Pōhutu Geyser is erupting.
Aerial view of Whakarewarewa; Pōhutu Geyser is erupting.
Coordinates: 38°9′44″S 176°15′23″E / 38.16222°S 176.25639°E / -38.16222; 176.25639
CountryNew Zealand
Local authorityRotorua Lakes Council
Electoral wardTe Ipu Wai Auraki General Ward
 • Land328 ha (811 acres)
 (June 2023)[2]
 • Total880
Springfield Glenholme Ngāpuna

Whakarewarewa (reduced version of Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao, meaning The gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao, often abbreviated to Whaka by locals) is a Rotorua semi-rural geothermal area in the Taupō Volcanic Zone of New Zealand. This was the site of the Māori fortress of Te Puia, first occupied around 1325, and known as an impenetrable stronghold never taken in battle. Māori have lived here ever since, taking full advantage of the geothermal activity in the valley for heating and cooking.[3]

Māori women washing clothes in a hot pool at Whakarewarewa in 1916

Whakarewarewa has some 500 pools, most of which are alkaline chloride hot springs, and at least 65 geyser vents, each with their own name. Seven geysers are currently active. Pohutu Geyser, meaning big splash or explosion, erupts approximately hourly to heights of up to 30 m (98 ft).[4]

Many of the thermal features at Whakarewarewa have been adversely affected by Rotorua residents taking advantage of the underlying geothermal fluids of the city by drawing shallow wells (20–200 m [66–656 ft] deep) to extract hot water for both domestic and commercial heating. A bore closure programme in 1987–1988 resulted in 106 wells within 1.5 km (0.93 mi) of Pōhutu Geyser being cemented shut, with another 120 wells outside the radius being shut due to a punitive royalty charging regime. There has subsequently been a pronounced recovery in the geysers and hot springs at Whakarewarewa.[5]

The area features Te Pākira Marae and Wahiao meeting house, a meeting place of the Tūhourangi hapū of Ngāti Puta, Ngāti Uruhina, Ngāti Wāhiao, Tūhourangi and Ngāti Taoi.[6][7]


Prince of Wales Feathers geyser erupting.

Most of the currently active geysers at Whakarewarewa are located on Geyser Flat and aligned on a common fissure. This is a highly complex system, with the activity of one geyser affecting another.

Kereru Geyser, about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) above Puarenga Stream, located at the head of a small apron of blackish sinter, erupts every few days or weeks, in a fan-shaped jet 15 m (49 ft) high. No large eruptions occurred between 1972–1988, and it seems its recovery was directly linked to the sudden reduction of well drawoff in 1987. Kereru Geyser is probably independent of other springs on the fissure.

Geyser Flat

Prince of Wales Feathers Geyser, Pōhutu Geyser, Te Horu Geyser (The Cauldron) and Waikorohihi Geyser are on a sinter plateau about 6 m (20 ft) above Puarenga Stream. Prince of Wales Feathers Geyser, Pōhutu Geyser's closest neighbour, always precedes Pōhutu, a feeble jet at first but gradually increasing in power until a continuous 9-metre-high (30 ft) column is ejected at an angle, when Pōhutu usually erupts also. Sometimes Waikorohihi Geyser erupts a discontinuous 5-metre-high (16 ft 5 in) jet, then Prince of Wales Feathers will commence, later followed by Pōhutu.

Until 1972, Te Horu Geyser erupted 2–7 m (10–20 ft) high as often as 10–15 times each day, but after that time eruptions and even boiling ceased. The water in Te Horu's vent began to overflow again in 1998. A very direct connection exists between Te Horu and Pōhutu, with air-cooled water erupted from Pōhutu largely falling in Te Horu's vent. This may explain the popular belief that Pōhutu is more active when there is a south wind, because most erupted water is then blown away to the north, whereas with a north wind much is returned to cool the system and delay the next eruption.

Mahanga Geyser, also called the Boxing Glove, is an old geyser not known to erupt until 1961. Its 3–4.5-metre-high (9 ft 10 in – 14 ft 9 in) eruptions occur quite independently of its near neighbour Waikorohihi.

Wairoa Geyser, acclaimed as erupting 60 m (200 ft) high, last erupted naturally in December 1940 after which its water level fell to 4.5 m (15 ft) below overflow and the water became acidic. However, in early 1996, its water level rose to 3.2 m (10 ft) below overflow, with continuous powerful boiling, and it remains so to date.

Beyond Geyser Flat is Waikite Geyser, which forms the apex of a prominent sinter mound 260 m south of Pōhutu. This last erupted in March 1967, and since then the vent has remained dry and weakly steaming. In June 1996, its previously 8.5 m (28 ft) deep and dry vent suddenly filled with boiling water which rose to within 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) of overflow. In the past Waikite tended to erupt after prolonged periods of excessive rain, suggesting that the level of water in its vent is dependent on rainfall. It is hoped that Waikite may one day erupt again. Meanwhile, Pareia Geyser, just beyond Waikite, has recently reactivated.

Photograph of the Papakura Geyser in 1916 by Albert Percy Godber

Papakura Geyser is the other notable dormant geyser at Whakarewarewa, last erupting in September 2015 after a 110 year period during which it was known to have faltered very briefly only three times.[clarification needed] The cessation of eruptions from Papakura was directly responsible for initiating the Rotorua Monitoring Programme in 1981.


Tihiotonga-Whakarewarewa statistical area covers 3.28 km2 (1.27 sq mi)[1] and had an estimated population of 880 as of June 2023,[2] with a population density of 268 people per km2.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [8]

Tihiotonga-Whakarewarewa had a population of 771 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 96 people (14.2%) since the 2013 census, and a decrease of 42 people (−5.2%) since the 2006 census. There were 288 households, comprising 390 males and 381 females, giving a sex ratio of 1.02 males per female. The median age was 43.2 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 117 people (15.2%) aged under 15 years, 144 (18.7%) aged 15 to 29, 378 (49.0%) aged 30 to 64, and 135 (17.5%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 59.1% European/Pākehā, 37.4% Māori, 1.9% Pacific peoples, 13.2% Asian, and 3.1% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 24.1, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people chose not to answer the census's question about religious affiliation, 44.4% had no religion, 37.7% were Christian, 2.7% had Māori religious beliefs, 2.7% were Hindu, 0.8% were Muslim, 0.8% were Buddhist and 4.7% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 156 (23.9%) people had a bachelor's or higher degree, and 96 (14.7%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $33,800, compared with $31,800 nationally. 126 people (19.3%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 336 (51.4%) people were employed full-time, 93 (14.2%) were part-time, and 36 (5.5%) were unemployed.[8]


Whakarewarewa School is a co-educational state primary school for Year 1 to 8 students,[9] with a roll of 124 as of April 2023.[10]



  1. ^ a b "ArcGIS Web Application". statsnz.maps.arcgis.com. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Population estimate tables - NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2023.
  3. ^ Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 411. ISBN 0-89577-087-3.
  4. ^ "Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley". Archived from the original on 17 April 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  5. ^ "Chemistry of the Rotorua Geothermal Field Part 3: Hydrology" (PDF). Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Te Kāhui Māngai directory". tkm.govt.nz. Te Puni Kōkiri.
  7. ^ "Māori Maps". maorimaps.com. Te Potiki National Trust.
  8. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Tihiotonga-Whakarewarewa (201300). 2018 Census place summary: Tihiotonga-Whakarewarewa
  9. ^ "Ministry of Education School Profile". educationcounts.govt.nz. Ministry of Education.
  10. ^ "Education Review Office Report". ero.govt.nz. Education Review Office.

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