Thermal Area sights in Lake Taupo Region
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A bit off the beaten track, Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park gets fewer visitors than other thermal areas. But, since the destruction of the Pink and White Terraces, it is arguably the best thermal area left in NZ, even though three-quarters of it now lies beneath the dam waters of Lake Ohakuri. A walking track that’s steep in parts largely follows a boardwalk around the colourful silica terraces for which the park is famous, and passes geysers and Ruatapu Cave (allow 1½ hours). This impressive natural cave has a jade-green pool, thought to have been used as a mirror by Maori women preparing for rituals (Orakei Korako means ‘the place of adorning’). Entry includes a…
Known to Maori as Waiora and latterly as Geyser Valley, this was one of the most active thermal areas in the world (with 22 geysers and 240 mud pools and springs) until 1958, when it was significantly affected by the opening of the geothermal power station. Today it’s the site of a re-created Maori village, a small meeting house, a carving centre, massage rooms and a set of healing thermal pools. These sit alongside artificially made geysers and silica terraces, re-creating, on a smaller scale, the famous Pink and White Terraces, which were destroyed by the Tarawera eruption in 1886.
The nighttime Maori Cultural Experience – which includes a traditional challenge,…
This lesser-known geothermal area sprang to life as a result of the hydroelectric tinkering that created the power station. When underground water levels fell and pressure shifted, new steam vents and bubbling mud pools sprang up. The perimeter loop walk takes about 45 minutes and affords great views down to the lake and mountains beyond. There’s a kiosk at the entrance, staffed by volunteers who kindly keep an eye on the car park. It's signposted from SH1, about 5km north of Taupo.