Rumours say the Tarawera Trail, when extended, could be the next addition to the Great Walks of New Zealand. Currently it is a one-way 15 km walk between Te Wairoa carpark (a 15 min drive from Rotorua) and Hot Water Beach, where a water taxi may be booked for the return journey to Tarawera Landing, a final 5 km from Te Wairoa car park.
The Hot Water Beach Campsite must be booked. What I did not know however, is that Hot Water Beach campsite is a favourite holiday spot for locals, who often book their favourite spot a year in advance and then put up huge tents for several weeks next to the lake, having barbecues in the evening. When I was there, the campsite was full and I was the only tourist.
The area around Rotorua is full of history as well as geothermal activity, and Lake Tarawera is of major cultural significance. The Pink and White Terraces, the Eight wonder of the World, were destroyed in the 1886 eruption of the nearby Mount Tarawera, which also shaped Lake Tarawera to its present shape.
As the name may suggest, there is plenty of geothermal activity on Hot Water Beach, where eggs may be boiled directly on the beach and small streams of boiling water empty directly in the lake. The walk from Wairoa car park is an easy 15 km walk through jungle on a well-marked, well-prepared path.
Highlights: The geothermal activity of Hot Water Beach.