Geothermal Institute

Housed at the University of Auckland, we have the world's largest group of geothermal researchers who build cutting-edge geothermal capability in Aotearoa and world-wide.

Established in 1978, we are home to the world's largest group of geothermal researchers and carry out cutting-edge research on several geothermal topics, with particular strength in computer modelling. We also offer specialised postgraduate study options for those wishing to pursue a career in the geothermal industry. 

Our goal at the Institute is to continue to build geothermal capability in New Zealand and overseas through innovative research, dedicated teaching and cutting-edge professional services. Through our leadership in geothermal science and technology, we support the sustainable global growth of equitable access to geothermal resources.

New Zealand is a leader in many aspects of geothermal energy exploration and production for direct use electricity. We are also the world's fifth largest producer of electricity from geothermal energy. Geothermal energy will continue to make an important contribution to reaching Aotearoa’s goal of zero carbon. 

Our research

Research at the Geothermal Institute has an excellent international reputation. 

Our research capabilities are wide-ranging and offer solutions (in fundamental science and applications) in geoscience, reservoir engineering and process control. We have a particular strength in geothermal modelling including the development of modelling software and modelling techniques. Our modelling team collaborated with GNS Science ( to build a highly parallelised geothermal reservoir modelling code called Waiwera, which enables us to run models 25 times faster, to progress our research on automatic model calibration (inverse modelling) and to measure uncertainty quantification. 

Our other strengths include geothermal well test analysis, above ground geothermal engineering and computer modelling of two-phase flow in geothermal wells. 

The GI is committed to the sustainable growth of equitable global access to geothermal resources by helping to deliver successful projects through effective training, new research and by applying best practices in geothermal technology. 

How can you work with us?

We have many ways you can get involved with the Geothermal Institute. 

Do a postgraduate with us

  • We have many PhD and Master of Engineering students who work with us. The GI has also supervised many 45-point Master of Energy research projects.
  • We encourage graduate students to be involved in a fortnightly Geothermal Institute “show-and-tell” meeting.
  • We attract 3-5 interns from Germany, France and the Netherlands, annually who perform small research projects and write reports as part of their Masters degrees.

Become a stakeholder

Contact us about any geothermal-related problems

  • We offer comprehensive geothermal consultancy services to help find innovative solutions to geothermal problems and support strategic decisions.
  • The GI responds to several public and small industry enquiries on geothermal-related problems every month. We provide technical advice on different geothermal technologies, and on hazards, health and safety concerning geothermal energy (complimentary). 
  • We make our research available to public, industry and regional government. 

Our people

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The use of geothermal resources is of significant interest to all Māori land trusts, hapū and Iwi. Its importance lies not only in sustainability, but also because sustainable use of geothermal resources in Aotearoa brings significant economic and business-innovation opportunities, especially to rural areas. 

The GI is already well known to Māori as the staff of the GI have been involved in several geothermal projects with different Māori land trusts on the realisation and development of potential of geothermal resources.
This collaboration has resulted in:

  • The 28 MWe (Te Ahi O Maui) Geothermal power plant in Kawarau was commissioned in September 2018. Our involvement extended over four years (2008-2012) by negotiating with developers/investors, assessing the full field power potential and providing advice on technology options for geothermal engineering.
  • In 2020 we signed a seven-year (NZ$420,000) consultancy contract with Taheke (T8C trust) Geothermal Project (Bay of Plenty) as the geothermal technical advisor on a new 25 MWe electricity generation project. We are involved in the geothermal wells drilling, testing programme and power plant design.
  • We are currently working with the Rotorua District Council on glass house projects using heat from geothermal wells on land owned by the local Iwi trusts. This project will produce affordable vegetables and provide employment opportunities to the local communities.
  • We provided pro bono advice to the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust to assist them to gain renewed resource consents for geothermal heating of a motel complex.
  • We assisted Te Arawa Group Holdings with a small project (in collaboration with Dobbie Mechanical Engineering), helping them to renew resource consents for a geothermally heated swimming pool.