FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

To assist those looking for more information we have put together this list of Frequently asked Questions. For ease we have classified them into five categories.

After your hellsgate experience

  • What do I do after my Hellsgate experience?

    After your Hellsgate experience then there are a number of things that you need to know and do so that you get the best overall Hellsgate experience. For swim wear and towels that you have used for your mud bath and spa experience please make sure that you wash then separately from your other clothes and that for the first wash you put in to the washer some cloudy ammonia (this can be purchased at Hellsgate or in any supermarket) which helps to neutralize the sulphur and then do a normal wash with normal laundry detergent. Do not place the clothes into a dryer as this will fix the sulphur into the material . In terms of jewelery, particularly silver these will tarnish. Make sure that you remove any jewelery before your experience. As your skin pores will still exude sulphur for up to 24 hours after your experience when you put your jewelery on it may tarnish slightly. If this happens take the jewelery off and clean it with ordinary toothpaste which will remove the tarnishing.

General Hellsgate information

  • Does Hellsgate have WiFi?

    Unfortunately Hellsgate does not have WiFi. The reason for this is that we are in an "internet shadow" which means we can not see any WiFi transmitters and our fixed line phone service is incapable of achieving an acceptable dial up connection to the internet – a situation that will not be addressed by our telephone providers until 2020 at the earliest. From an operation perspective we can only gain minimal access to the internet for emails and the like through a 3G mobile connection which must be routed through our own mobile transmiitter/booster as without this we would not get any mobile phone coverage at all.
  • How far is Hells Gate away from town?

    Hells Gate is approximately 15 minutes drive from the Rotorua I Site which is in the centre of Rotorua City. The physical address for GPS purposes for Hellsgate is 361 State Highway 30, Tikitere Rotorua. For those without a vehicle there are shuttle buses that pick up from Rotorua City three time a day and do scheduled drop offs. Please click here for details
  • Wet Weather

    Many visitors ask us about the effect of wet weather on their potential Hellsgate experience. In terms of the geothermal park wet weather makes the park activity more noticeable with steam coming up for many places in the park which would not be noticeable on a fine day. Our hot water fall really comes into its own with higher water flows and accompanying steam emissions. We do not have umbrellas but do stock plastic ponchos that are available for sale at the ticketing office for $3.50 each. In terms of the spa we do have some shade sail covered areas to our mud baths and spa pools that provides some shelter from the rain, but it must be acknowledged that these are outdoor pools.
  • What is the difference between Hells Gate and other NZ geothermal parks or attractions?

    Hells Gate is unique in that it is the only "acid sulphate " geothermal system in NZ. As a result it does not have the beautiful colours of the other geothermal attractions which are "alkali chloride" systems. It has the most active geothermal features with water temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Celsius, the largest hot water fall in the southern hemisphere and the largest mud volcano. It also has an extensive history and interaction with the local Maori who have owned the reserve for more than 800 years and more recently with European settlers and visitors over the last 180 years. It is the only geothermal attraction to have an English name, care of George Bernard Shaw and was the birth place to spas in New Zealand, both with Maori and European. It is the only geothermal park to produce more than 2 tonne of geothermal mud each day and has been the site of a number of world first discoveries in terms of thermophiles found here and no where else in the world. It is known as the "beast' of geothermal parks or attractions but many have said it to be an "Awesome Beast"
  • Why is Hellsgate expensive?

    Some visitors have raised the question of the prices charged by Hellsgate. The geothermal park and spas that we operate are in the most corrosive environment in New Zealand. As such their maintenance are very high, both in terms of manpower and resources. We endeavour to maintain our geothermal park in as natural a condition as possible while still ensuring our visitors safety. Due to the corrosive nature of the environment we replace all of our galvanised nails (stainless steel nails are 2.5 times the cost of galvanised and last only an extra 3 to 4 months) in our barriers every 6 months and have to replace the timber every two years. In terms of our spa facilities including pools, buildings and support buildings such as ticketing office, cafe etc all electrical and mechanical equipment last only 12 months at most and most electrical sockets, and internal wiring needs to be replaced at least every 2 years. We beleive that our charges represent value for the unique experience that is Hellsgate and is in line with other visitor attractions which do not have the same operating expense environment that we do.

Hours/Prices/Shuttle information

  • Can I hire swimsuits, shorts or towels?

    Yes swim suits, shorts and towels can be hired at reception for $5.00 per item. These items are commercially laundered after each use. For those clients who are traveling on the day of arrival the hiring of these items is a good idea to save having to travel with wet items in your car.
  • Does sulphur cause asthma?

    This is a very interesting question. In the main the answer would be no but it cannot be ruled out in every case. In the 18 years that we have been operating Hellsgate we have not come across one case. As an interesting aside some years ago a study was made to see if Rotorua residents suffered from more bronchial problems due to the inherent exposure of sulphur and sulphur compounds in the air of Rotorua. The results of that small study showed the reverse.
  • What age is a child?

    For the purposes of charging the age of a child is deemed to be under the age of 15 years. When we calculate pricing for a family it is made on the basis of two adults and two children under the age of 15 years. For children under the age of 5 years there is no charge. The mud bath and spa are suitable for children under 2 years but they like all children must wear suitable bathing attire.
  • What are the latest times to undertake the various Hellsgate experiences - eg massage and therapies, geothermal walks and mud bath and spas?

    For massage and therapies like facials and body scrubs the last booking will be 7.30 pm, For the geothermal walk the latest time that this can be done is at least 1.5 hours before sunset. In summer this can be 8.00 pm whereas in winter it could be 3.30 pm. For the mud bath and spa the latest entry is 8.30 pm.
  • What days are you open?

    We are open every day except for Christmas Day. Our hours of operation are 8.30 am to 10.00 pm daily. While it is not necessary to make a reservation for our mud bath and spas it is a good idea to ring if coming in after 7.30 pm at night.
  • What times are the Shuttle pick-ups and where do they pick up from?

    Please click here for the shuttle timetable and pickup points. (link to shuttle route)

SPAs

  • Are the Hells Gate and NZ Spas luxury spas or not?

    No they are not luxury spas and have never been promoted as such even through the Wai Ora Group has consistently won the World Luxury Awards for its spa experiences. They are Rotorua's historic spa experiences that enables visitor from around the world to experience the authentic geothermal mud and sulphur water of Tikitere or Hells Gate in the same way as was first experienced by European visitors some 180 years ago and Maori for more than 800 years. This spa experience is a component of the " New Zealand Cultural Spa Experience" which includes the upmarket Wai Ora Spa at the Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort. The experiences at both spas are different and complimentary giving the visitor a truly unique New Zealand Spa experience that can not be achieved elsewhere.
  • Do you add any other chemicals such as chlorine into the mud baths or spas?

    No we do not add chlorine or any other chemicals to the sulphur spas or mud baths. A lot of people on seeing the colour of the mud baths have some concerns regarding there cleanliness. The natural sulphur compounds in the spa water and mud baths act as a very effective sanitiser in fact delivering an efficiency greater than chlorine when used as a sanitiser in swimming pools. It is also of interest that before penicillin was discovered and used widely as an antibiotic, sulphur drugs were used extensively.
  • Is the sulphur spa and/or mud bath suitable for children under 2 years of age?

    The sulphur spa and mud baths are suitable for children under the age of 2 years.The most important requirement is for the child to drink water while bathing to keep hydrated. This is the same requirement for adults. The other issue to be aware of is the need to ensure that the child is comfortable with the heat. Again this is the same requirement for adults.
  • What is a mud bath and why are you only allowed to stay in for a maximum of 20 minutes?

    Each mud bath holds approximately 40 - 60 kg of geothermal mud which is both in suspension and solid form in the stainless steel containers and on the bottom of the mud baths. Many people when they first come to Hellsgate believe that the geothermal mud baths are very thick and you have to almost make a hole in it to gain entry. This has never been the case in the last 800 years of mud bath use at Hellsgate. In reviewing similar experiences around the world in central Europe and Asia as well as America the only such "thick" mud bath experiences known are in California using volcanic ash and the UK with Moor mud. As far as we are aware this is the only spa complex using geothermal mud sourced from its own geothermal park. PLEASE NOTE THAT A MUD BATH ON ITS OWN IS NOT AVAILABLE. The geothermal mud combined with the sulphur waters provides a unique gentle exfoliation of the skin leaving it smooth and soft to touch. A result that can last up to 6 weeks after the experience.. The geothermal mud and sulphur water at Hellsgate have also been known for their curative properties in respect to a number of skin disorders. To fully enjoy your mud bath experience cover yourself in the silky smooth geothermal mud in the stainless steel container in the Mud Bath. Be careful not to get it in your eyes or hair otherwise the sulphur water could run down and irritate your eyes with a temporary stinging sensation. Once covered in mud ask your spa attendant to take a photo of you with your camera or phone. If you feel that you do not have enough mud in your container please ask the spa attendant for more. The mud bath experience is controlled to a maximum of 20 minutes on the basis of safety. When first designed we had as an advisory team, two doctors , an osteopath, scientist and Komatua (Maori elders with healing knowledge) which looked at how we would be able to safety operate the mud baths taking into consideration that even though the water temperature was the same as the spa pools the heat energy stored in the mud baths is higher. In view of this and the fact that each person is different the mud bath experience was set at a maximum of 20 minutes per person and it could only be done once per day.
  • What is the difference between the Hells Gate Spa and New Zealand Spa facilities?

    Hells Gate has semi private mud baths with a very open spa area overlooking the thermal park. The NZ Spa complex has private mud baths with two open spas that are secluded and set apart from the rest of the complex. In addition the NZ Spa has a private lounge area the NZ Spa clients can access any time. The geothermal mud used in the Mud Baths are the same for both the Hells Gate Spa and NZ Spa. This is also the case for the sulphur water which is the same in the spas in both complexes. Essentially the New Zealand Spa facility is more private than the Hellsgate Spa facility.
  • What is the difference between the Hells Gate Spa and Twilight Spa?

    The Hellsgate Spa and Twilight Spa use the same facilities but the Twilight spa is now open to 10.00 pm each night except Xmas.
  • Where do you get the mud and geothermal water from?

    The geothermal mud is collected from the top of the geothermal park from our hot lakes while the sulphur water is collected from our "Hurutini" hot pool which is opposite the bridge which is just passed the start of the geothermal walking track.
  • Will the mud bath and/or sulphur spa discolour my swimsuit?

    No it won’t. What will happen after the experience is that you bathing attire will smell of sulphur and as such you will need to wash your attire as soon as practicable. Remember to wash these items separately in a small amount of "cloudy ammonia" that you can ready get at a supermarket or from our ticketing office and once washed hang them out to dry naturally. Do not place in a dryer as this will fix the sulphur smell into you bathing attire and make it very difficult to remove

what to bring and do?

  • Do we have to book if we have already booked and paid on the internet?

    Yes, you do need to reconfirm your booking especially in terms of shuttle pick up time and location, spa therapies such as massage , scrubs and other therapies. If you need to make changes to your booking particularly spa therapies then you must notify us 24 hours prior to the original booking time. Changes within the 24 hour period will be subject to availability. If there is no availability then a 50% cancellation fee will be charged. Any no shows without any notification will incur a penalty of 100% of the fee being charged for the prebooked therapy.
  • Is there a cancellation policy in place?

    Yes, there is a cancellation policy on spa therapies. When the booking is made a credit card is required to confirm the booking. Once booked you must give at least 24 hours notice if you are unable to attend at the booked time. Cancellations made before the 24 hour cancellation period will not be charged a penalty fee. If canceled or a change is made to the booking time after the 24 hour cancellation period then a 50% cancellation fee will be made against the credit card details held to confirm the booking. No Shows will be charged the full amount of the therapy booked.
  • What do we need to bring?

    If you are having a spa or mud bath experience then you can either bring your own bathing attire and towels or hire them at Hells Gate. We also have swimwear for sale. If you are going to walk the geothermal park then we would suggest comfortable footwear, some sunscreen during summer as well as water as you walk around due to the heat. If it is raining bring out a suitable raincoat or you can purchase a disposable rain cape at Hells Gate for $3.50. Do not be deterred by rain as the geothermal park is at its best when it is raining (as long as it is not to heavy).
  • What measures are in place to ensure possessions are secure?

    If you are having a mud bath and or spa at the Hellsgate facility then you will be given a plastic container with a lid into which you place your clothes and pocessions into. The containers are water proof and you take these with you as you undertake your experience. This ensures that you always have line of sight of your container. If you are having a spa experience at the New Zealand Spa facility you will be given a locker to securely store you pocessions and issued with a key with a lanyard to keep with you at all time.