If you love getting outdoors and into nature, there are several great opportunities to explore the area around Lake Tarawera on foot.
You’ll be rewarded with spectacular natural landscapes, glistening lakes, native forests, towering waterfalls, and otherworldly volcanic and geothermal environments.
Buried Village, then water taxi back to The Landing, but you can do this in reverse, too.
The trail ends at Te Rātā Bay, known for Hot Water Beach created by the natural hot springs right on the lake’s edge. Here you’ll find Hot Water Beach Campsite (open year-round) and nearby Totally Tarawera glamping spots (check for seasonal availability). Return water taxi transport by Totally Tarawera is available, but must be booked in advance as the water taxi does not operate if there are no bookings.
Another way to enjoy this trail is by booking the floatplane Adventure with Tarawera Trail Hike tour with Volcanic Air. This includes vehicle transfer from the Rotorua lakefront to the start of the trail, then a floatplane pickup from Hot Water Beach, returning you to the city. While at Hot Water Beach, you’ll have time for a picnic lunch (which can be provided for additional cost), and a warm soak in the natural geothermal springs or a refreshing lake swim before your return flight home.
Mount TaraweraThe summit of Mount Tarawera has been likened to the Grand Canyon, a dramatic natural landscape with red volcanic scoria slopes and vast craters.
A visit to this historic maunga (mountain) is the best way to fully appreciate the scale of the 1886 eruption, where you can see how the earth was ripped open and formed a 17km rift that created what is now Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
A sacred place for local Māori, access to the mountain is limited to guided tours only through Kaitiaki Adventures and Volcanic Air. Travelling with Kaitiaki Adventures, you’ll ascend the mountain as far as possible by 4WD before continuing on foot for a guided hiking experience around the volcanic crater, and even a scree run into the crater, if you’re keen. With Volcanic Air, a scenic helicopter tour delivers to the side of the mountain just a few minutes’ walk from the crater’s edge to start your guided walk. A fly-drive combo with these operators gives you the best of both adventures.
Atop the mountain, you’ll enjoy incredible panoramic views of the Rotorua Lakes District and national parks, and on a clear day, you can see the line of North Island volcanoes Putauaki (Mount Edgecumbe), Whakaari (White Island) and Mount Ruapehu.
Tarawera FallsThe Tarawera Falls are one of the region’s hidden gems, accessed via picturesque walk following the Tarawera River from the Tapahoro (outlet) on Lake Tarawera.
Getting to the start of the trail is an experience in itself with options by water taxi with Totally Tarawera, or by air with Volcanic Air.
The trail is 5km one way to the Tarawera Falls viewing area, with a number of popular swimming spots and smaller cascading waterfalls along the way. At a height of 65m, the falls pour out of a cliff after the river disappears underground into flooded caves in the rhyolitic lava flow from an old eruption of Mount Tarawera.