Discover the thermal wonderland of Ōrakei Kōrako. © BareKiwi

Ōrakei Kōrako: the painted place


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The name Ōrakei Kōrako means something along the lines of ‘painted place’ in Māori and it’s easy to see why.

A virtually pristine geothermal valley, set on Lake Ohakuri just outside Taupō, Ōrakei Kōrako is a volcanic world of geysers, bubbling mud, naturally heated caves and even hotter springs. 

The landscape is a riot of almost improbable colours, stained by the minerals in the hot water, bubbling up from deep underground.

There are more active geysers here than in any other geothermal field in New Zealand, along with snorting fumaroles, fizzing springs and entertainingly obscene mud pools.

A short bush walk leads to Ruatapu cave, where you can descend into the warm earth and admire the mirror-calm surface of a subterranean pool. Ōrakei Kōrako also has one of the largest silica terraces left in the world, since the Pink and White Terraces were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. 

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