After rafting for a few hours, Cris and I needed to relax and unwind. It’s a good thing we were booked into Hells Gate, a thermal park and spa. The nice people at Raftabout gave us a lift to Hells Gate, and we spent the next couple of hours there.
First, we did a self-guided tour of the thermal park. To be honest, the park isn’t as great as Wai-o-Tapu. There aren’t many colorful pools, and most of the park is a monotonous shade of gray. There is a section that’s a bit more woodsy and it features a small waterfall. Other than that, there’s just heaps of steam spouting up from various spots along the way.
After a loop through the thermal park, we headed for the spa area. After getting changed into our swimwear, Cris and I went to one of the mud pools. Hells Gate has the only mud pools that you can actually get into and they’re the main attraction at the park. The minerals in the mud do great things for your skin. Also, you’re only allowed about 20 minutes in the pools and one of the spa staff will come get you when your time is up. I’m not sure if this is due to the popularity of the pools or if too much exposure to the minerals is harmful to you.
Unfortunately, what they don’t tell you and what isn’t show in the advertising is that the mud is only about three inches deep at the bottom of the pool. I expected the mud to be two feet deep and completely enveloping us. Instead, you had to scoop up the mud to rub it on your body, and it was like you were bathing in really dirty water. On a positive note, the mud and minerals did make your skin feel baby-soft so there is some truth to their effects. Cris enjoyed the mud bath a lot, but I thought it was a waste of time. In the end, it just felt too gross to slather on mud.
Next we had a dip in the mineral bath. Again, the natural minerals in the water are supposed to seep into your skin while you’re soaking. The temperature of the water was heavenly to me, but Cris felt it was definitely too hot. Unlike the mud bath, the mineral bath was color and odor free. You were also allowed to stay in as long as you desired, but I don’t think you could really stay in for more than an hour at a time due to the heat.
When we were done soaking in the mineral bath, we headed to the showers to rinse off and the separate male and female locker rooms to change into our street clothes again. When booking with Hells Gate you can ask for a free ride to and from the park in one of their shuttle buses. However, they only leave at specific times and we’d just missed one. Rather than waiting almost two hours for the next bus departing to the city, we asked a lovely English couple if they might give us a lift into town. They agreed and dropped us off at Fenton Street, which is just around the corner from Crank.
All in all, this was a pretty good way to spend a day in Rotorua – adrenaline-pumping adventure in the morning and complete relaxation in the afternoon. If I had to recommend one though, I’d definitely go