Sitting on two tectonic plates, constantly grinding and on the move, New Zealand is at the receiving end of a great deal of geological action. All this action below the surface bubbles up in the form of natural hot springs, geysers and mud pools, touted for their therapeutic benefits. Can you handle the heat of NZ's North Island volcanic hotspots?
Hells Gate, Rotorua
Rotorua packs the best of New Zealand's natural assets into one region – traditional Maori culture, rejuvenating spas, native forests and, of course, geothermal gems. The city of Rotorua is renowned for its bubbling mud pools, steaming hot fumaroles and sulphuric ambience, with Hells Gate one of the most commanding attractions just outside the town centre. Make your way to the inferno for a time-honoured mud bath ritual, lathering up with silky grey volcanic mud. Your skin will thank you for it.
White Island, Whakatane
White Island (aka Whakaari) is New Zealand's only active marine volcano, complete with grumbling gas vents and a sulphuric-green crater lake. Plonked in the Bay of Plenty 90 minutes from Whakatane, White Island's changing landscapes are painted red, white and yellow from the rich underlying minerals. With a two-kilometre wide volcanic bowl and some 300-metre high cliffs, the impressive island is an adventurer's dream where you can hike the surface or scour outlying ocean.
Craters of the Moon, Taupo
If you'd rather not dive into the volcanic action, observe it from the comfort of a walking track at Taupo's Craters of the Moon (Karapiti in Maori). The barren, untamed landscape is covered in a wooden walkway, hovering above hissing steam pockets – the result of hydrothermal eruptions lurking beneath the earth's crust. Once you've soaked in the steamy moonscape, cool off with a visit to the Singapore-sized Lake Taupo.