Steaming geysers, hot springs, and mud pools bubble up from boiling-hot reservoirs below the Earth’s surface at Orakei Korako geothermal park. The area boasts silica terraces decorated with colorful swirling patterns—the result of the hot water algae—and a rare geothermal cave.
Take a self-guided tour of the geothermal park by following a 1.5-mile (2.5-kilometer) boardwalk. Admission tickets includes round-trip ferry transport, which carries you from the visitor center to the geothermal field. The geothermal area is only accessible by boat.
For a more thrilling journey, travel by float plane. Flights usually take off directly from the Waikato River and land at Orakei Korako to explore, before soaring over the nearby Huka Falls on the return leg. You can also get to Orakei Korako by a jet boat on the Waikato River, passing the sheer cliffs of Tutukau Gorge along the way.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is Wi-Fi at the visitor center and café.
- Ferries from the visitor center run on demand.
- There are lots of steps at Orakei Korako, which makes it unsuitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
- There are plenty of benches to rest on while making your way around the site.
How to Get There
Orakei Korako is a 30-minute drive from Taupo. Follow State Highway 1 north for about 12 miles (20 kilometers) and then take the Tutukau Road turnoff; look out for the Orakei Korako signposts. Driving from Rotorua takes about 45 minutes.
When to Get There
Orakei Korako is an off-the-beaten-path attraction and is therefore quieter than other geothermal sites in Taupo. Arrive for the site’s early morning opening time to experience it at its quietest.
The Meaning Behind the Names
The name Orakei Korako means the Place of Adorning. In times past, Maori women from the Ngati Tahu iwi (tribe) used to come to this area to bathe and prepare for various ceremonies. Among the most eye-catching thermal features at the site is the hot jewel-toned pool at the bottom of Ruatapu Cave. This pool is known as Waiwhakaata (Pool of Mirrors).