A bit off the beaten track, Orakei Korako gets fewer visitors than other thermal areas. Yet, since the destruction of the Pink and White Terraces, it is arguably the best thermal area left in NZ, even though two-thirds of the original site now lies beneath a dammed section of the Waikato River.
Pureora Forest Park
Fringing the western edge of Lake Taupo, the 78,000-hectare Pureora Forest is home to NZ’s tallest totara tree. Logging was stopped in the 1980s after a long campaign by conservationists, and the subsequent regeneration is impressive. Hiking routes through the park include tracks to the summits of Mt Pureora (1165m) and the rock pinnacle of Mt Titiraupenga (1042m).