Lakeside treks in a geothermal land

Rotorua Lakes

Travelers coming to New Zealand, especially the tourists who come with an eye for adventure often come to country’s South Island. Lying in the shadow of active volcano Mt. Tarawera, Rotorua Lakes is an undiscovered natural landscape where the water flowing is clean enough to drink; you can hear the sweet bird-songs and the fern filled forest are bright as bottle of absinthe.

The place is well-known for mountain biking, water-skiing, fishing and hunting, the Rotorua Lakes region is recently being discovered for hiking as well. Over the next five years, the authorities are planning to link seven of the regions lakes with a multi-day walking track totaling around 42 km. Rotoura is the largest of the lakes, which has a city of its own name. The geothermal surroundings gets a constant reminder by observing the sulfuric, rotten-eggs scent wafts from the city’s drain and bubbling mud pools.

Next to Lake Tarawera is Mt. Tarawera, which was the victim of killing more than 100 people. Once called as the eighth wonder of the world Lake Rotomahana was destroyed having pink and White Terraces. The eruption was strong that it went on to a small village nearby called as Maori, TeWairoa and the village was into ash, rock and mud at that time. The village is now known as Buried Village. The Tarawera Trail which has its beginning from Buried Village and after about 5 km, the shoreline of Hawaiki Bay beckons. To the east of it Mt. Tarawera rises over the water.

Moving at 10 km mark, the walk takes a steep turn and the next kilometer is a scramble from about 300 m to 500 m sea level mark, before a Hot Water Beach is reached. The boiling water streams flow into this small bay, by making it either pleasant, warm bath or a definite hot burn, depending upon how close you are to the source. It is known for cooking sausages and other meals just by dipping them in the stream. This is fun for beach-goers.

The trail comes to an end near the foot of the volcano, with a dramatic view of 17 km crater, which runs across the mountain’s southern ridge, spewing rough and rust-red scoria, i.e. volcanic rock. Hiking to the summit, which requires the passing through the land is privately owned and is being illegal since 2009. From here, you can only reach by a helicopter or a 4 x 4.

Another region to explore is Whakarewarewa Forest, which is about 4 km south of Lake Rotorua and is known for hosting some of the most special mountain biking trails which are all well maintained by a dedicated team of local volunteers. Thanks to the hilly areas and the volcanic soil drainage, the trails can be ridden year around. The Rotorua is active in many ways besides hiking, running, biking and fishing.

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