29 Oct Satisfy your appetite for adventure in Mt Tarawera
Adventure-seekers, this one’s for you! The breathtakingly beautiful Mt Tarawera is just waiting to be explored. Having attracted visitors since the 1840’s, this volcanic landscape quickly became known as the unofficial ‘8th wonder of the world’, drawing those eager to catch a glimpse of the iconic Pink and White Terraces, before the infamous 1886 eruption completely destroyed and reshaped the landscape.
Nowadays, the area’s rich natural and cultural history still holds the key to a majestic and mystical day of adventure. Whether exploring the mountain, lake, or the surrounding native bush, the Tarawera area – often referred to as ‘the birthplace of tourism in New Zealand’ – offers plenty to see and do for every kind of outdoor enthusiast.
From the air
To gain an appreciation of the vast beauty of this distinctive landscape, get a bird’s eye view with a thrilling helicopter flight. Volcanic Air’s variety of short and long flights offer stunning views of the dynamic landscape from above, followed by a spectacular landing on the crater’s edge.
To fully immerse yourself in this natural wonder, upgrade your adventure to also include a 4WD tour and guided crater walk with Kaitiaki Adventures – as the mana whenua of the rohe (region), they’ll share fascinating stories whilst taking you deep into the heart of the world’s youngest geothermal valley. The tour also includes an optional scree run into the crater itself, for an extra dose of adrenaline.
From the water
Lake Tarawera is one of Rotorua’s 18 pristine lakes, a tranquil gem of nature found beneath the majestic mountain. Buckle up for a unique floatplane experience to fully discover the lake – from the water landings and take-offs through to the non-stop window-seat views, Volcanic Air’s tours provide unparalleled perspectives of the region from above. These scenic flights can also be combined with trips to Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Orakei Korako Geothermal Park.
For a trip with a difference, jump aboard Rotorua Duck Tours’ amphibious WWII landing craft, that includes a splashdown in the lake, as you learn about the legends of the area and witness Māori drawings, cravings and history up close.
From the ground
Explore the surrounding area by venturing into the wilderness on a scenic hike. For a short walk that packs a punch, the 40-minute return Tarawera Falls Track is a must-do – witness the powerful Tarawera River flowing through fractured lava rock from a jaw-dropping 65-metre height. Combine this walk with a helicopter flight from the Rotorua lakefront for the ultimate combo experience.
For a longer adventure, hike the 5-6 hour Tarawera Trail, an intermediate-level track that starts in Te Wairoa and winds its way alongside the lake and through native bush – an adventure into nature that finishes at the iconic Hot Water Beach. Take a tent and camp overnight at the DOC campsite – it’s a great spot to make a splash with a swim in the geothermally-heated lake springs, followed by a leisurely picnic on the lake’s northern shores.
Whilst the Pink and White Terraces are no more, seeing this maunga (mountain) up close is still a bucket-list-worthy adventure for every Kiwi, with the six-kilometre-wide volcanic canyon and pristine blue lake offering plenty of thrills and panoramic views. Whether exploring on land, on water, or by air, get your next nature and adrenaline fix in Mt Tarawera!