If you are travelling the North Island between the Rotorua and Taupo region, you will probably visit some of the many geothermal locations there. Visiting Orakei Korako Thermal Valley is such a great option, especially if you want to get away from the main highways and mass tourism. The Orakei Valley is about 23 kms inland from state highway 5. So it is definitely worth a detour, as there are far less tourists stopping here. Also you will get to see the ‘classic’ rolling hill country, that the North Island is so famous for. View also travel times and distances in New Zealand.
Where is Orakei Korako located?
You’ll find Orakei Korako right in the middle of Rotorua and Lake Taupo in the North Island. If you are travelling with a rental car, you will find it very easily to incorporate this route into your itinerary. And of course, there is so much to love about travelling the lush green farming countryside! View some sample itineraries.
Why visit Orakei Korako Thermal Valley?
However, you should be aware that Orakei Korako is not the only thermal valley. In fact, there are a number of thermal valleys between Rotorua and Taupo. A good example would be the Te Puia, Waiotapu and Waimangu Valley. They are all so beautiful and in easy reach from the main road SH5. But, because there are far more visitors coming to these ones, you might find the experience doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. You will be much more likely to have plenty of space yourself at Orakei Korako.
The track is very well maintained. Once you get walking, you will have very clear instructions – especially with regard to safety issues. There is a clearly marked path to follow plus a lot of signage indicating all the different mud and water pools. I guess that is probably just as well – you will be so distracted by the breathtaking scenery. To be sure, the smell of ‘rotten eggs’ follows you pretty much everywhere. But let’s face it, you will get in any geo-thermal area. View overall NZ travel experiences.
How much time do I need to plan?
Visiting Orakei Korako Thermal Valley takes quite a bit more time. Firstly, you will need to travel from the main road SH 5 inland for about 25 minutes (or 23 kms). And because the drive is stunning, you will be stopping for photos.
Once you arrive, you will have to calculate on another full hour for the boat ride across – plus a good walk of sightseeing. Some folks will take longer, while others will do it in 45 min. In any case, take your time and absorb the energy of mother nature! The Orakei Korako Info Centre also offers a cafe with food and drinks. Note, there are no toilets on the track. Do remember to take a water bottle with you, especially if you are travelling in the summer season.
What can I see while doing the Orakei Korako walk?
With any thermal valley in New Zealand you’ll see a moon-like landscape with bubbling mud and water holes. The natural fault-stepped silica terraces actually form the base of the Orakei-Korako Geyserland and Thermal Park. In fact, they are believed to be the largest of their kind since the destruction of the famous Pink and White Terraces in 1886.
Summary on Visiting Orakei Korako Thermal Valley
If you are travelling between Lake Taupo and Rotorua, looking for a less touristy thermal area and have a couple of hours spare time, then Orakei Korako is a fantastic option.. Rotorua is only a 45 min drive away, with Lake Taupo being about 30 min. The site is open between 8.30am – 4.30pm daily. The entrance fee (May 2019 prices) is NZ$39 per adult and NZ$15 per child. A family pass is also available.
As an alternative, there is also a flight with the Volcanic Air floatplane from Rotorua with a landing on the lake.
To get your travel planning started check out our nature & lifestyle travel itineraries.
Happy travelling the North Island of New Zealand!