A pathway winds through the lunar-like landscape of this geothermal area, leading you past steaming vents and geysers, and gurgling mud pools. Previously dormant, the Craters of the Moon fizzed to life in the 1950s after underground water levels were altered by the activity of a nearby power station.
A 1.7-mile (2.7-kilometer) walkway loops around the Craters of the Moon Site, and offers unobstructed views of the vents and pools. On a clear day, you can see Lake Taupo and the peaks of Tongariro National Park from the park. For an alternative perspective of the landscape, take a helicopter tour, which typically soar over the Craters of the Moon, Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, and Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The geothermal activity of the area means that the ground and water can be very hot, so wear comfortable closed-toe shoes and ensure you stay on the path.
- Allow about 45 minutes to complete the trail.
- The walking track is a mixture of boardwalk-style walkways and gravel paths, meaning that it’s accessible to wheelchair and stroller users.
- There’s little shade here, so be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat.
How to Get There
Craters of the Moon is about a 10-minute drive north of Taupo. Follow the Thermal Explorer Highway north and take the Karapiti Road turnoff—there’s parking at the site. If you’re not driving, it’s best to take a taxi or come as part of a tour.
When to Get There
The best time to visit Craters of the Moon is between June and August, when geothermal activity is most visible. The views are best on a clear day so check the weather before you go. The area is closed on Christmas Day.
Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley
A short drive from Craters of the Moon, Wairakei Natural Thermal Valley showcases more of New Zealand’s geothermal landscapes. Here, you can see natural thermal features and measure the ground heat using a loaned laser thermometer.