Depart Nicara Lodge, heading south towards Taupo. There is the choice of three major thermal valleys, all uniquely different in what you can see. Each will take about 2 hours to go through. See steam, sulphur, boiling water, mud, geothermal activity and numerous points of interest. It’s your choice.
The first one you come to is only about 20km south of Rotorua. Waimangu is a beautiful valley full of thermal activity and the opportunity of a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana, the original location of the Pink & White Terraces which were obliterated by the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in June 1886. Having visited the museum the day before you can more fully appreciate the sheer power of the eruption.
Should you choose Wai-o-Tapu, this is another 10km further on SH5. They have the Lady Knox geyser which plays daily at 10.15am. Close by are the finest mud pools in the area. Well worth seeing. After viewing the geyser you can walk around the Thermal Valley which abounds in colourful activity.
The third choice is Orakei Korako. This also is a lovely park accessed across the Waikato River by ferry which is included in the entrance fee. Each park has unique features. This one is no exception with a very deep cave and some beautiful views over the River.
We would recommend the New Zealand River Jet departure from the main highway turnoff, departing at 10.45am daily. This includes a 50km return jet boat ride and entrances to Orakei Korako. The ultimate is flying there by floatplane directly from Nicara Lodge and returning the same way.
North of Taupo are the Aratiatia Rapids, a sight well worth seeing and it’s free. These rapids were known for their size and beauty but when that part of the Waikato River was dammed and a power station erected, the rapids were obliterated. Due to public outcry the power company now open the sluice gates of the dam and flood the rapids at 1000, 1200 and 1400 daily and an extra opening at 1600 in summer, October to April.
It’s a great sight and one that should not be missed. A hooter sounds just before the sluice gates are opened. Try and get there before they are opened to see the rapids uncovered. It takes about 30 minutes for the rapids to return to their former glory.
Then continue south towards Taupo. 1km south on SH5 from the Aratiatia turn off is the Lava Glass Gallery and Glassblowing, well worth a visit. Slightly further south is the Wairakei Thermal Power Station. A world leader.
Then there is Huka Falls. A must. Great falls and very scenic part of the river. Coming out of Huka, continue along the river edge. There is a nice lookout at the top of the hill looking over Taupo, the lake and on a nice day our National Park with its 3 snow capped peaks. Continue into Taupo or return to Nicara Lodge.
There are over 100 restaurants catering for all tastes and pockets within 9km of Nicara Lodge. Heather and Mike are happy to give you some other options as well.
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