Turangi & Around
Once a service town for the nearby hydroelectric power station, sleepy Turangi’s claim to fame nowadays is as the ‘Trout Fishing Capital of the World’ and as one of the country's premier white-water-rafting destinations. Set on the Tongariro River, the town is a shortish hop for snow bunnies from the ski fields and walking tracks of Tongariro National Park.
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 New Zealand, 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 780-sq-km Pureora Forest is home to New Zealand’s tallest totara tree. Logging was stopped in the 1980s after a long campaign by conservationists, and the subsequent regeneration is impressive. Tramping routes through the park include tracks to the summits of Mt Pureora (1165m) and the rock pinnacle of Mt Titiraupenga (1042m).