On a hot spring day there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in the New Zealand bush.
It had been a while since we’d done a tramp (hike), so when I came across Stoked for Saturday’s post about the Tarawera Trail whilst planning our long weekend in Rotorua I knew it was time to lace up the hiking boots.
The Tarawera Trail is a 15 km, 4.5 hour walk along Lake Tarawera, about 20 minutes drive from Rotorua.
After waking at 4 am (yes, that’s right) to watch the All Blacks beat South Africa in the Rugby World Cup semi-final (yahoo!), we put on our hiking boots and our new Osprey packs and started the walk in slightly foggy conditions. The mist curling around the treetops made for a somewhat mystical beginning to our day. But soon enough the clouds parted and we were greeted with a brilliant blue sky day.
The Tarawera Trail starts at the Buried Village and heads towards Lake Tarawera through native New Zealand bush. The track is well-formed – we were lucky that the day before we did it, a crew of track cleaners had been through and they had even raked the path!
After about 20 minutes we got a glimpse of the slick blue lake glistening through the tree ferns. The trail winds its way along the southern side of Lake Tarawera, occasionally coming down to lake level but mostly a hundred metres or so up the hillside. This makes for gorgeous views!
The trail is pretty gentle most of the way, with a couple of steeper sections. There are some nice rest stops with toilets and picnic tables along the way, and we stopped at one for lunch.
If you’re in the mood for a swim, the crystal clear cold springs at Twin Streams make for a chilly swimming spot if you need to cool down (it wasn’t quite summery enough for us to do that!) and the bush provides welcome shade from the hot sun.
The only really steep part of the track is near the end, but the reward is waiting for you at the top with stunning views right across Lake Tarawera and of Mt Tarawera itself, as well as over Lake Rotomahana. After the uphill slog the remaining 20 minutes downhill is pretty easy, and before you know it you’ve arrived at Hot Water Beach.
A beach with hot springs!
What a perfect way to end a lovely hike. There are pools made from rocks in the edge of the lake where the hot springs flow in, but beware – the water can be incredibly hot!
We spent an hour sunbathing on the beach before the Lake Tarawera Ecotours water taxi came to pick us up. The water taxi is the only way to return from the end of the trail (except for walking all the way back, of course!).
It was a fantastic way to finish the day, blasting across the glassy water of the lake and seeing where we had walked all the way along the shore. It helped that we had the most amazing weather too!
The Tarawera Trail is pending approval from local Maori tribes to link up to other tracks and become New Zealand’s next Great Walk (following in the footsteps of the famous Milford Track and others). Let’s hope this happens soon – if so, we’ll definitely be back!
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Where’s your favourite day hike? Tell us in the comments below!