Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve

Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve is located at Wai-o-Tapu just south of Maunga Kakaramea (Rainbow Mountain). The reserve covers approximately 125 hectares and includes geothermal features such as the Champagne pool and Lady Knox geyser. Land to the west of the reserve is managed by the Department of Conservation. Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland Tourist area leases the Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve from the Runanga.

To see the location of the reserve click here.
For information on authorisations for filming, research and all other activities at the reserve click here.
For information on the development of a Reserve Management Plan for Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve click here.

Authorisations at Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve

If your enquiry is regarding authorisation for activities at Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve then please read the following before contacting the Runanga.

Restrictions on activities

Please note the following are not permitted at Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve:

  • Fire or pyrotechnics of any sort
  • No animals to be bought on to site
  • No removal of any materials from site (vegetation, soil or other material unless specifically authorised)
  • No drone use or other aerial devices
  • No other noise producing equipment such as generators
  • A maximum group size of 8 people (including any filming crew, actors and/or support staff)
  • No filming or photography is permitted off formed public tracks
  • No aircraft permitted over or on the reserve
  • No temporary structures permitted


To undertake any activity at Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve the following insurance cover (at a minimum) is required and proof of cover provided:

  • $5,000,000 public liability cover
  • $1,000,000 Rural Forest Fires Act extension

Unless proof of both insurance covers are provided you will not be permitted to film at the Reserve.  For overseas applicants, please note that Rural Forest and Fires Act extension to your policy reflects the requirement in New Zealand for any person starting a rural fire to cover the cost of actually fighting the fire.  This extension is usually additional to public liability cover.
Please note that more cover may be required depending on your activity and is at the discretion of the Runanga.  This information will be provided to you if your application is accepted.
You will also be required to undertake the following:

  • Complete a pre application email (see below for information required) and provide this information to us so we can ensure we can accommodate your activity and it is consistent with Reserve values
  • Enter into an authorisation agreement with the Runanga for your activity which outlines the requirements and what you are authorised to do at the site (which incurs an application fee)
  • Provide details on your health and safety procedures for your filming
  • Pay relevant application and activity fees


Fees will be charged for both the application process and for you to conduct your activity within the Reserve.

Fees for applications range from $120-$300 (exclusive of GST) and depend on the nature of your activity

Fees for conducting your activity range from $250-$1000 per day depending on your activity

You will also likely be required to cover staff costs for a site manager to accompany your crew while working at Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

If you wish to proceed with your enquiry about your project please click here to download the pre-approval list of questions for filming and photography or click here for the pre-approval list of questions for all other activities.  Once completed please email this information to [email protected]


Once we receive the required pre-approval information we will respond to your request within 10 working days to indicate if we approve (in principle) your request. From this approval, the minimum timeframe for processing and completing the required authorisation and documentation is 20 working days.

Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve Management Plan

The Reserves Act 1977 governs how this land is managed and administered and also outlines the primary purpose of the Reserve.  The purpose is:

Protecting and preserving in perpetuity for their intrinsic worth and for the benefit , enjoyment and use by the public, suitable areas possessing such qualities of scenic interest, beauty or natural features or landscape that their protection and preservation are desirable in the public interest.

The Runanga as the land owner and administering body is responsible for ensuring this primary purpose is achieved.

The Reserves Act 1977 also requires the development of a Reserve Management Plan for Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve.  This plan will assist in the protection and management of the Reserve to meet it’s primary purpose.

The Reserve Management plan for Wai-o-Tapu Scenic Reserve is currently under development by the Runanga.  The process for development of this plan requires public consultation on the draft document.  Updates on timing for notification of the draft will be provided on this website.