Rotorua. where geothermal activity is the backdrop for some of New Zealand’s most accessible Maori cultural experiences. World-class visitor attractions, vibrant Maori heritage and spectacular thermal areas guarantee plenty of entertainment in Rotorua, you’ll find magnificent examples of hissing geysers, bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles to explore. Rotorua, a Maori word meaning literally "second lake", was originally settled by the Maori of the Te Arawa iwi.
Many famous Maori legends and stories are based in this area including Hinemoa and Tutanekai—perhaps New Zealand's most famous love story, the beautiful Pink and White Terraces that were destroyed in the Mt Tarawera eruption, as well as many interesting Rotorua personalities.
Rotorua is the heartland of New Zealand Maori culture, and visitors have the opportunity to experience the warm spirit of Te Maori.
The founder of Rotorua was a Maori explorer named Ihenga in the 14th century. The first Maori inhabitants arrived shortly after his discovery, transported by canoe from Hawaiki On the morning of June 10th, 1886 a series of small earthquakes were felt in the Rotorua area. At 1:30 am a larger earthquake was felt and followed by the sound of an explosion. By 2:30 am Mount Tarawera's three peaks had erupted blasting three distinct columns of smoke and ash thousands of metres into the sky. At 3:30 am the bed of Lake Rotomahana blew out.
The eruption of Mt Tarawera was heard as far way as Blenheim, in the South Island of New Zealand, and the effects of the ash in the air were observed as far south as Christchurch, located over 800 kilometres south of Rotorua. The sound of the eruption and the flashing sky was heard as far away as Auckland,
The eruption is believed to have killed over 120 people, although it is possible that more people died. The eruption also destroyed the Pink and White Terraces and buried the Maori village of Te Wairoa. Many of the lakes surrounding Mt Tarawera had their shapes and areas dramatically altered because of the explosion.
Heritage Hotel Cnr Froude and Tryon Streets Ph: +64 7 348 1189 Toll free (within New Zealand): 0800 368 888 http://www.heritagehotels.co.nz/rotorua/ If you're searching for Rotorua Hotels, try our hotel accommodation with a difference - look no further than the Heritage Rotorua hotel, formerly the Park Heritage Rotorua. From our location by the Whakawerawera Thermal Reserve, you can enjoy magnificent views and the convenience of being situated a short distance from Rotorua city's many attractions. 4 studio rooms 28 sq mtr all with adjoining rooms. Pohutu Cultural Theatre in the Heritage Hotel Very accessible
Kuirau Park Motor Lodge, Cnr Ranolf & Hinemoa Sts, Rotorua http://www.kuirauparklodgerotorua.co.nz/ One room - Queen plus a single bed - also comfortable.Good size bathroom. Flat access through doorway.
Ascot on Fenton – Rotorua http://www.ascotonfenton.co.nz/ 247 Fenton St Victoria, Rotorua (07) 348 7712 Good sized lounge with separate bedroom plus another bedroom upstairs Private thermal heated spa or bath
Quality Hotel Geyserland Rotorua http://www.regalgeyserland.co.nz/location.php 424.FentonStreet,Rotorua.Phone 073482039. Reservations 0800 881 882 A good sized studio room with excellent thermal views plus another with adjoining room no thermal views
Birchwood Spa Motel http://www.birchwoodspamotel.co.nz/ 6 Sala Street Phone: +64 (0)73471800 Reservations Free phone (NZ only): 0800 881 800 1 unit with separate bedroom and private courtyard spa
Hells Gate Thermal Reserve Hell's Gate is Rotorua’s most active geothermal park, set on 50 acres of steaming hot springs, boiling and bubbling mud pools, spurting geysers and the miraculous scorching waterfall, Kakahi, the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. Hell's Gate is also home to New Zealand’s largest mud volcano and largest hot whirlpool. Tikitere Rotorua (07) 345 3151 20 minutes drive Highway 30 fairly good accessibility http://www.hellsgate.co.nz/
Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park, Rotorua
Most areas were easily accessible with a mixture of wooden boardwalks and paved paths - generally level with a few short, reasonably gentle slopes.
There were only 2 areas up steps - 1 to get closer to the browsing animals on the hill, and the other to reach the elevated treetops walk. There is an enclosure where, on the hour, the public can "pat a lion cub". We found that the inner gate was too narrow for the wheelchair, but one of the attendants brought one out to us. http://www.paradisev.co.nz/
Buried Village http://www.buriedvillage.co.nz/ Te Wairoa Village, in a valley above Lake Tarawera, was established by a Christian Missionary in 1848. It was abandoned during the land wars of the 1860's, then repopulated a few years later as the staging post to the Pink and White Terraces. Violent and unexpected, the eruption was New Zealand's greatest natural disaster. For more than four terrifying hours, rocks, ash and boiling hot mud bombarded the peaceful village. The fiery glow in the night sky and the thunderous roar of the explosions were seen and heard as far away as Auckland. Tarawera Road RD5 Rotorua Ph 07 362 8287 20 minutes from Rotorua Paths fairly accessible some excavations are not
. Rotorua Museum Government Gardens Queens Drive, Government Gardens RotoruaPh07 350 1814 http://www.rotoruamuseum.co.nz/ Whether you have an hour or a day to fill in you will find plenty of things to entertain you at Rotorua Museum. Our innovative exhibitions and entertaining cinema experiences will capture your imagination.Discover the great stories of the Rotorua region The stunning Bath House building can be explored from the mud bath basement to the viewing platform on the rooftop. Regular tours are available with our friendly guides and there are special activities for the kids. Gardens and ground floor accessible where most of the exhibits are, upstairs is not
Te Puia Cultural evening Hemo Road Rotorua, Telephone 07 348 9047 (southern end Fenton Street) http://www.tepuia.com/things-to-see-and-do/te-po.html Visitors can relax and enjoy a top-class performance including the beautiful waiata (songs), the vigorous haka (challenge), and the elegant poi dance. You will then be invited to participate alongside our group and learn some of our customs from the past including our musical instruments, haka, poi and weaponry.A sumptuous banquet is provided during the evening. This banquet combines contemporary cuisine with a traditional hangi (earth-cooked oven meal), where kai (food) is steam-cooked by hot rocks in the earth, giving it a delicious smoky flavour. Fire doors on side of building offering good access. Path down to viewing platform to see geyser and mud pools.
Agrodome.Western.Road.Rotorua http://www.agrodome.co.nz/3 Fantastic Shows Daily: Phone: 07 357 1050 9.30am 11.00am 2.30pm...Agrodome, the Unique New Zealand Experience! The Agrodome is situated on a 160 hectare sheep and beef farm just north of Rotorua city, and is a must see attraction for every visitor to Rotorua, New Zealand The Agrodome Sheep Show is a one-hour performance, presented live by a skilled enthusiastic Stage Presenter. You will be entertained from this multi-award winning stage show as the presenter gives an exciting and informative insight of agriculture in New Zealand. The Agrodome Sheep Show is presented three times daily in a specially designed auditorium, where the audience will see nineteen sheep breeds introduced onto the stage, the art of sheep shearing, sheepdog demonstrations, cow milking, bottle feed lambs and an exciting sheep auction. Very good access for the show.
Set amidst a landscape of erupting geothermal activity, hot thermal springs and hot bubbling mud pools is the Living Maori village of Whakarewarewa situated in Rotorua, the heart of the North Island. Discover our unique lifestyle and traditions. Join a guided tour and see the wonders of Mother Nature and learn how we have come to live in harmony within this unique environment. Accessible paths around the village, back area of village is not.
Pohutu Cultural Theatre Cnr Froude and Tyron St in the Heritage Hotel Ph 0800 108114http://www.pohututheatre.co.nz/?s=attractionRotorua's premier indoor Maori cultural experience, and it's much more than just a show. At the Pohutu Cultural Theatre you will be completely immersed in an enchanting audio and visual performance presented by third generation descendants of Te Arawa - the Iwi (tribe) of the Rotorua region. You will also dine on traditional Maori delicacies, Steam Pit Hangi, and a delicious buffet of seafood and local produce, followed by mouth-watering desserts. The Pohutu Cultural Theatre is an authentic and traditional Maori show and feast designed to enthrall and engage you in a luxurious and state of the art venue. The theatre features a stunning blend of modern technology - fully air-conditioned with unrivalled lighting and sound systems and exceptional perspectives from every one of the 300 seats, and traditional Maori design, including a 3-metre high tunnel entrance complete with handcrafted artworks. Very accessible.
Rainbow.Springs.Kiwi.Wildlife Park & Kiwi EncounterFairy Springs Road Rotorua http://www.rainbowsprings.co.nz/Tel: +64 7 350 0440 Free phone 0800 RAINBOW (0800 724 626) Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park has been a favourite destination since 1932. Spread over 22 acres of parkland, Rainbow Springs offers a truely unique experience, and is a must-see for anyone who wants to get to know New Zealand’s wonderful environment and animals, both during the day and at night. Your ticket allows unlimited entry for 24 hours so there is no additional charge to visit the nocturnal animals.Rainbow Springs Nature Park is where you can reflect while watching trout going about their lives in large pools, check out a number of native birds - including kiwis - and walk along ferny paths and among giant redwood trees. Rainbow Springs is built around bubbling fresh springs that push out some two million litres of pure water every day. Interestingly, the water that comes bubbling out of the spring, might well have started as rain up to 50 years ago, falling on Mt Ngongataha. This extinct volcano has no established streams to carry its run off, so the water soaks into the ground and filters through the volcanic rock. Finally it emerges through an aquifer as the beautiful clean clear water that bubbles out of the Spring. It sure sounds nice and it must be as the fish in the springs are wild and can swim off any time they like. They include rainbow trout - the most common type of trout in the North Island of New Zealand - as well as brown trout, North American brook trout and tiger trout. Good access around the trout pools , but no access to farm park. Well worth a visit to see trout up close in natural environment.
Campbells Restaurant 345 Fenton St Rotorua , 07-347 7879 a selection of pasta, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetarian accompanied by garden fresh salad or seasonal vegetables. Great menu for children - something tasty to please everyone. Desserts, cheeseboard and great coffee - a perfect way to finish a perfect meal. If it isn't on the menu, just ask and we'll oblige if we can. Don't be afraid to visit Campbell's Restaurant at Wylie Court if you have special dietary requirements (advance notice preferred, but not essential).
Mokoia Restaurant , 77 Robinson Ave (Holden's Bay) Rotorua 07 343 5100 Mokoia Restaurant is a definitive fine dining experience featuring creative Pacific Rim cuisine using fresh and flavorsome local ingredients. The restaurant specializes in healthy gourmet cuisine using unique indigenous foods and herbs. Executive Chef Ervin Y Garde has created a menu that he feels embraces the essence of contemporary New Zealand culture.
Abracadabra Cafe & Bar 1263 Amohia Street Rotorua 07 348 3883 Abracadabra Cafe and Bar is a fun and funky Moroccan restaurant situated in the center of Rotorua. It has three seperate rooms that can be booked out for private use. There is a great outdoor bar area with the only genuine beer garden in Rotorua
Ciccio Italian Café 1262 Fenton St Rotorua 07-348 1828 1263 Amouhia Street,
Relish Café 1149 Tutanekai St Rotorua 07-343 9195 Featuring all-day breakfast, pizza and the all time favourites, lamb shanks, chicken breast on turkish bread and bacon and avocado buddy. Friendly staff serve Relish's own designer brand of coffee and a wide selection of herbal teas. Our wine list features mostly local NZ wines delicious cakes and slices are made on our premises
Ambience Fine Indian 1161 Amohau St Rotorua 07-350 1206 The Destination where Authentic Indian food blends with Modern style, to achieve excellence in food definition. Ambience has put in their knowledge and soul to soothe the palate of an individual. The Fusion Cuisine presented by Ambience is unique. We retain the authenticity and the traditional method of cooking Indian dishes to achieve total guest satisfaction.
Lewishams Cafe & Restaurant 1099 Tutanekai St Rotorua 07-348 1786 A touch of Europe...a culinary legend in Rotorua...Lewishams Cafe & Restaurant. Open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 9am till late. Fully licensed and BYO. Varied menu including specialty dishes from across Europe. Light and vegetarian dishes available.
Sabroso 1184 Haupapa St Rotorua 07-349 0591 You are invited to enjoy the beauty, culture and taste of an authentic Latin American meal. Sabroso is a moderately priced, fun and unique restaurant serving cuisine prepared using the freshest and finest local produce, meats and seafood available, along with a few specialty imports. Menu items range from Peruvian Cebiche to Argentinean style ribeye, and Mexican Pollo Asado (grilled chicken), to Brazilian Shrimp Stew. We also offer a few old favourites including Enchiladas and Sabroso Nachos in addition to a selection of tapas, signature drinks, salads and desserts.
Yamato Japanese Restaurant 1123 Pukuatua St Rotorua 07-348 1938 Yamato serves a variety of traditional Japanese cuisine. This includes fresh fish which its preparation can be seen at the bar counter. The staff wearing traditional Japanese clothing will provide excellent and friendly service.
Rotorua to Taupo
Drive time is just over 1 hour This is a short journey, but there are some interesting attractions along the way. Getting started, take SH3 south out of town. Very soon you'll be driving beside the Whakarewarewa Forest Park As you continue south you will pass through Tumunui, Waiotapu and Parekarangi,. there is a long drive through private pine forests before emerging at Wairakei Village and Wairakei itself with museums, craft stores and the huge thermal expanse called Craters of the Moon.
In 1958, the Wairakei power station was comissioned to harvest the natural energy of the geothermal fields, and so began the damage of man. Some of the area's geysers were irreparably destroyed by the development. Despite this damage, there are still scores of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and hot springs to explore throughout the area. Other features include a Maori village, therapeutic foot bath, animal park, aviary and the recently upgraded Te Kiri o Hinekai Pool, known as the Honeymoon Pool, and recognised for its healing powers.
Wairakei Terraces are a manmade creation of cascading silica terraces in blues, pinks and whites, fed by the steaming multi-hued waters of the Alum lakes that in turn have been created by a spectacular manmade geyser of superheated waters. Wheelchair accessible. http://www.wairakeiterraces.co.nz/wairakei.htm From there, it is a short trip into Taupo.
Taupo is surrounded by stunning volcanoes, bush clad mountains and a spectacular landscape lies the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere, Lake Taupo. Some of the best trout fishing in the world has international anglers flocking to the area while mighty mountain peaks draw skiers and adventurers alike Lake Taupo began its dreamy watery beginnings with a volcanic eruption in 186AD. This enormous eruption blew a 660 square metre hole in the earth sending ash into the atmosphere so high and so far, that the Chinese and Romans recorded these fiery red skies.
Tuwharetoa Maori arrived in the 13th Century being descendents from the Arawa, one of the great canoes from the great migration, and European settlement in 1830 began its early beginnings with the arrival of Christianity, geologists, traders, and settlers. In 1877 Taupo was surveyed into allotments and by the 1890's Taupo was flourishing, with sheep farming and an expanding business town. With better road access and transport Taupo was starting to attract travellers and the town was forming. During the 1900 the growth and economic development expanded with farming, forestry, geothermal potential, tourism and lifestyle, making Taupo the exceptional and distinctive business, events and holiday destination it is today. Geothermal energy potential
Despite the success of the Wairākei project, which has proved to be a cost-effective and reliable contributor to New Zealand’s electricity supply system, it was not until the late 1980s that further geothermal power stations were built, at Ōhākī and Kawerau. The pioneering zeal of the 1950s and 1960s was followed by a lull during the 1970s and 1980s, when attention turned to the large Māui natural-gas field. However, this is expected to run out before 2010, and interest in geothermal power, along with other renewable sources such as wind and solar energy, has been revived.
There was a rapid growth in the production of electricity between 1995 and 2000 in response to the 1993 deregulation of electricity supply and generation. In 2002 New Zealand had seven geothermal power stations. Six were in the Taupō Volcanic Zone, and one at Ngāwhā in Northland. Geothermally generated electricity provided about 7% of New Zealand’s total electricity.
New Zealand’s geothermal energy potential is considered large in comparison to other renewable energy sources, and could supply a third of our total electricity needs if fully developed. However, there are significant costs to the environment.
Lake Taupo Motor Inn 33 Kaimanawa St Taupo Ph: 07 378 5401 Free phone: 0800 33 34 42 Accessible rooms are all ground floor level and quite spacious. First class amenities, elegant décor and all air conditioned. They open to an outdoor area where you have your own table and chairs. There are three rooms with good wheelchair access and are all located close to the pool and carpark area.http://www.laketaupomotorinn.co.nz/rooms.htm
Beechtree Accommodation 56 Rifle Range Road Taupo Ph 073770181 Free phone: 0800 233 248 A leading provider of apartment accommodation in Taupo. Designed by one of Taupo's leading interior designers, the rooms ensure guests feel pampered. With twenty-one rooms including three wheelchair access rooms which are 5mtr by 4mtr. Most rooms include bathrooms with retractable doors so you can lie in the spa bath and watch TV or simply close the doors on the world and drift off.http://beechtreemotel.co.nz/
DeBretts Spa Resort Phone 07 378 8559 : Napier/Taupo Highway, Taupo Motel Accommodation at Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort, Taupo's Motel with a bed for all budgets. Our motel units are a great family motel accommodation option, for couples and travelers. These Taupo motels are spacious, fully self-contained, including a kitchen and bathroom. Relax in the lounge with a comfy couch and Sky TV with 5 in house DVD movie Channels. Enjoy the convenience of having your own kitchen to prepare breakfast or even dinner. Accessible unit is an older but comfortable and 2 bedroom. The plus here is that they have accessible paths to the spas and a lift for the disabled http://www.taupodebretts.com/ A
Quest Taupo Serviced Apartments 9 Tui Street Taupo P: (0)7 378 7487 Toll Free within NZ 0800 350 005 Quest Taupo offers both superior 4.5 star & standard 3 star Serviced Apartments. We are situated fifty metres from the lake front, one kilometre south of the main shopping precinct. The property consists of 16 Superior 4.5 Star rated 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, suitable for short and long term stays and 16 comfortable refurbished smaller standard studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. Accessible units are 3 bedroom, one having a large bathroom.http://www.questtaupo.co.nz/index.site.home.property.14.html
Things to do
for an insight into the special stories of the Taupo district including the district’s volcanic origins and rich Maori history. We’ve got fishing and boating memorabilia and a kiwiana caravan (a quirky 1950s time capsule), and more. An art gallery features changing exhibitions by NZ artists – and work is often for sale. View the steaming silica terraces and listen to the birdsong in the gold medal-winning ‘100% Pure New Zealand garden – ‘Ora – Garden of Wellbeing’ (Chelsea Flower Show). Taupo Museum is sited in Taupo’s ‘central’ park close to the I-site and town centre shops. Taupo Museum - a unique blend of heritage and culture from Maori treasures to contemporary art.http://taupovenues.co.nz/tmus/home/
State Highway 1 Wairakei TaupoPhone: 07 378 0913 Mobile: 021 335 710View the first ever man-made silica terraces, reminiscent of the famous pink and white versions destroyed at Tarawera. Geyser, foot baths, healing spa also offer a unique look back in time. Maori carvings depict the history of Maori and New Zealand. Experience a rare opportunity to participate in a traditional Maori welcome and challenge, followed by demonstrations of Maori art and craft, a traditionally ground-cooked hangi meal and concert. All paths are gravel and accessible with some steepish slopes http://www.wairakeiterraces.co.nz/home.htm
Volcanic Activity Centre
Karetoto Road Wairakei Park Taupo Phone: 07 374 8375 Free Phone: 0800 ERUPTION Experience the power of the planet - the Volcanic Activity Centre brings to life the explosive past and present volcanic and geothermal features of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, one of the world's most active volcanic and geothermal landscapes. Discover the fascinating volcanic and geothermal secrets of the Taupo Volcanic Zone through hands-on interactive displays that make learning both easy and fun for all ages. Good access. http://www.volcanoes.co.nz/
Huka Prawn Park
Huka Falls Road Wairakei Taupo Phone: 07 374 8474 or 07 374 8303 On the banks of the Waikato River, just 10 minutes north of Taupo, you will find New Zealand s only Prawn Park and home of Shawn the Prawn. Huka Prawn Park offers a fascinating day of adventure and entertainment for the whole family: - Experience the thrill of landing the feisty prawn at Hook-a-Prawn fishing - Be surprised at the exciting life of the prawn in the Aquarium and Hatchery!- Enjoy the delight of hand feeding the baby prawns in the Prawn Nursery - Watch the peaceful Waikato River as you stroll along the Riverside Nature walk - Check the children s hunting skills, on Shawn s Treasure Hunt - Marvel at their speed and size while feeding the wild, but friendly Rainbow Trout - Play and have fun on the Adventure Walkways and Playgrounds - Sit back and unwind as you soak your feet in the Geothermal Foot Bath - Enjoy the breathtaking views while you sample a mouth watering selection of dishes on offer at Huka Prawn Park s Riverside Restaurant.Good access through the hatchery but paths outside although level are stony http://www.hukaprawnpark.co.nz/
Taupo Karetoto Rd (off Huka Falls Rd) SH1, Wairakei, Taupo, (07) 374 8553 The Honey Hive boasts New Zealand's largest showcase of honey products Taste 100% pure local and New Zealand honey Sample meads, liqueurs, & fruit wines. Test a wide range of honey based skin care products. View our live beehive and displays Good access.http://www.honeyhivetaupo.com/index.pasp
Huka Falls Walk,
Taupo Location: Huka Falls Rd, off SH 1, 5 km north of Taupo Length: Surface: sealed and gravel Toilets: pay toilets, disabled access Car park security available
These spectacular falls were created over time by the mighty Waikato River squeezing through a deep rock channel and emerging with great force at the northern end. Enjoy the views from platforms overlooking the falls.
The Brantry Restaurant
45 Rifle Range Rd Taupo 07-378 0484 This award winning restaurant has built its reputation on top quality New Zealand cuisine that is unique to The Brantry with a sophisticated wine list to create a unique dining experience. The Brantry is constantly at the forefront of Taupo’s dining experience and a recent stylish refurbishment in the original 1950s town house has allowed us to offer a variety of dining experiences from the intimacy of the Cellar, Alfresco Dining in the garden to the open plan upper level for larger groups. The Brantry is open 7 days
Mr India Tandoori Restaurant
30 Tuwharetoa St Taupo 07-377 1969 The best way to enjoy an Indian meal is to share. If you are two or more, we will serve each dish you select separately so you may experience a variety of tastes by sharing each other's choice from our extensive menu. If you have a specific budget in mind, you may like to select from our banquet menus
Kissa-Kai Cafe & Restaurant
26 Horomatangi St Taupo 07-377 2930 Heritage of India, Indian Tandoori Restaurant 19 Tongariro Street, Near Lake End, Taupo (07) 3774458 Welcome to the ethnic taste of our Indian cuisine as rich and varied as its culture. Tickle the fancy of your palate with glorious Indian curries, Vegetarian delights and tasty tandoori treats. Or indulge in the delicious seafood dishes, Banquets, Kid's menu, Lunch Special and much more. We hope your visit to our Heritage of India will give you a glimpse of India and its rich cultures. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff will be pleased to familiarize you with the various levels of spicing and also assist you in the selection of your dishes from the plenty of choices
Bistro LargoTaupo Restaurant
at the Terraces Resort 80 - 100 State Highway 5 (07) 3771400 Relax at GPK's newest restaurant at the Terraces Resort, Lake Taupo. With open fires and large outside balconies, you can dine in style and comfort, all whilst enjoying one of the most spectacular views in Taupo. The Terraces Resort, is a historic landmark that first opened its doors in 1889. The hotel is located in the ancient pumice flows overlooking Lake Taupo and was named after the Black Terraces that once surrounded it. This recently refurbished two storied historic building combines colonial charm with contemporary style and comfort, making it one of Taupo's architectural icons
The Pub n Grub
4 Roberts Street Taupo Town Centre (07) 3780555 Licensed Pub & Restaurant in Taupo
Napier is about 2 hours drive east
The road from Taupo to Napier, which is part of the Thermal Explorer Highway, takes you over the Ahimanawa & Rimutaka Ranges, crossing the mighty Mohaka River, hugging the edge of fast flowing streams, through cultivated forest and large areas of stunning native bush. State Highway 5 is not just the fastest and most direct route to Napier from the north, Soon after leaving Taupo, the highway passes "The Terraces", an 1889 hotel named for the now-lost local black silica terraces. Various hot pools are found in the area. Shortly after this, the road starts to climb to the volcanic plateau, with the 65,000 year-old volcanic Mount Tauhara looming on your left. The highway then passes through the small settlement of Opepe, which is at the intersection of two major pre-European walking tracks (Taupo-Napier and Urewera-Tokaanu). A military stockade was built there in 1869 and the township thrived for several years in the late 19th century, though little remains of it today.Beyond Opepe lie the Kaingaroa plains, formed from the ash from the great Taupo eruption of 186 AD.
The Kaingaroa Forest, which lies on these plains, is one of the largest man made forests in the Southern Hemisphere. Radiata (Monterey) pine is the main species. The Waipunga Valley stretch of the highway was difficult to construct and passes through several deep rock cuttings. The highway continues past the hot springs of Tarawera before climbing to the small settlement of Te Haroto, once a busy timber-milling town. The highway next crosses the mighty Mohaka River. This is a popular spot for river activities, both mild and wild. From trout fishing to kayaking to white water rafting The highway next ascends to cross the Titiokura Saddle, the site of a proposed electricity generating wind farm, before passing through Te Pohue, a former coaching stop for travellers heading inland from Napier.
A few kilometres further on is an unsealed road leading to Trellinoe Park, one of New Zealand’s largest private gardens.http://www.trelinnoepark.co.nz/ Trelinnoe (pronounced tree-lin-o) is a Cornish name - the name of a farm where John Wills' grandfather grew up before immigrating to New Zealand. In 1956 brothers Brian and John Wills took up residence on the 2800 acres of waste scrub land that had not been successfully farmed. Their ambition was to create a profitable and pleasing farming enterprise. The result is Trelinnoe Park, one of New Zealand’s finest woodland gardens. The park’s 30 acres has an exceptionally wide and varied collection of trees, shrubs, perennials and natives. Landscaped woodland paths, wide sweeps of lawns, clipped hedges, hillsides of flowering trees and spectacular vistas. The gardens are open all year round, although the café does close over the winter months.
From here, the road descends into the Esk River valley, a fertile area with vineyards and orchards before it meets State Highway 2 at the coast. But before you reach the valley floor, you get a glimpse of Napier in the distance and the sea beyond.
Wellington is about 5 hours drive south from Taupo.
You’ll follow the eastern edge of Lake Taupo to reach Turangi. The drive is very scenic and there are many picnic opportunities along the way. Where streams run into the lake, you’ll often see trout fisherman trying their luck.
The town of Turangi is the trout fishing capital of New Zealand. There are famous fishing spots in almost every direction, including ‘The Delta’, ‘The Hole’, ‘Little Big O’ and ‘Tailrace’ (believed to contain the world’s fattest trout). On the long, straight Desert Road you’ll enjoy amazing views of Tongariro National Park’s volcanoes. In Waiouru, the QE2 Memorial Museum is worth a look. http://www.armymuseum.co.nz/
As you drive south towards Taihape the landscape becomes dominated by rivers and valleys. The Mangaweka Gorge is a scenic masterpiece. Find time to browse the antique shops of Bulls, or spy on wading birds in the estuary near Foxton. Offshore from Waikanae Beach is Kapiti Island Nature Reserve. A car museum and gourmet cheese factory are other attractions in this area.