“Possibly the best thermal area left in New Zealand and one of the finest in the world” (Lonely Planet).
Next stop on our Spaceships adventure was Taupo (and I will write separately about our time in Taupo), but the first thing we did while staying there was visit the geothermal wonderland of Orakei Korako – and we would wholeheartedly agree with Lonely Planet’s above statement!
Having visited other geothermal attractions in the area – Wai-O-Tapu being the most popular which we visited back in 2010, we definitely think that Orakei Korako is the best in the area. It feels so much more remote, wild and real, whereas some of the others are much more touristy.
We deliberately chose a clear blue sky day to visit, as thought it would look its best, and are so glad we did as got some great photos! The drive up from Taupo took about half an hour and was a lovely drive once off the main road. There was only one other car in the car park so we knew it would be pretty quiet! We headed inside to pay (it was $36 each which we thought was really well priced) and then took a walk down to the dock to catch the small ferry across Lake Ohakuri to the geothermal area – the ferries run on request throughout the day. We could already see steam rising ahead of us and it was very exciting! We were the only ones aboard and took the short ferry ride – which took a couple of minutes – across the water. It was a cute system, as when you wanted to return you just pressed a button and the ferry would come across to get you!
We then spent a few hours wandering all around the whole geothermal area. There were a few steps to climb up and down, but the walk wasn’t too strenuous and we enjoyed every second! Highlights included walking down to the Ruatapu Cave (apparently one of only two caves in the world known to exist in a geothermal field), seeing the bright orange Silica Terraces (believed to be the largest of their kind), seeing the colourful Rainbow Terraces and Artist’s Palette covered in geysers and hot pools, and the noisy Soda Fountain.
There was geothermal activity everywhere we walked, and just lovely peace and quiet so we could hear the birds and listen to the hissing and bubbling all around us.
To go back to the meaning of the name Orakei Korako – ‘O’ means ‘the place of”, and ‘Rakei’ meaning ‘adorning’, and ‘Korako’ meaning white glitter (describing the sinter flat), so Orakei Korako means ‘The glittering place of adorning’ – it was simply beautiful and a highlight of our Spaceships adventure!