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Tarawera Trail

A steaming Hot Water Beach. Photo: Matthew Pike
Lake Tarawera Reserve
Te Waiora car park, off Tarawera Road (15min from Rotorua)
BF37, BF38
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From the car park, the track descends the Wairoa Valley to the lake shore.

The next hour of the walk undulates close to the coastline with several opportunities to nip to the shore for a breather or a dip. The landscape on the opposite side of the lake looks wild, with Mt Tarawera,s bulk dominating the skyline.

At Oneroa, the track heads over the top of the peninsula. The grade is always easy and the path cuts through dark, enclosed little valleys. On the other side of the peninsula is Wairua Stream, where there’s a toilet. Near here is a short unofficial track heading left which leads to a hut (keep an eye out for wallabies in this area) and shortly after a hot pool with steps leading into it and a small wooden platform to one side.

Rocks at the outlet raise the level of the pool a little and a dam made from earth and stones where the water enters the pool keeps the gunk out. The result is a perfectly clean, relaxing, knee-deep natural tub big enough for 10-15 people.

The climb to Rotomahana lookout point is slightly arduous but is put behind you soon enough as you head down to Hot Water Beach. The beach is aptly named, with warm water leaking into the lake most of the way across.

The western end of the bay has the most aggressive activity, with scalding streams causing steam to rise from the lake.

It’s a beautiful place with the large volcanic scar on the southern end of Mt Tarawera clearly visible.