With a name like The Hidden Valley there was never a chance that we weren’t going to visit Orakei Korako on our recent trip to Taupo.
Winding through pleasant country roads you will come to a large (artificial I’m told) lake and find Orakei Korako – which is home to New Zealand’s largest geyser field.
A short boat trip across the lake and you are suddenly transported into a land of steam and bubbling mud that seems like something out of a movie.
Unlike other geo thermal parks which can feel barren and frankly, just hot, the thermal attractions here were flanked by lush forests with shady paths providing relief from the sun and a contrast to the raw energy of the earth spewing out so visibly.
And there were visible eruptions everywhere – from the soda fountain that steams and fills and empties at will…
To the constantly bubbling mud, like a witches cauldron…
My favourite space however was the Ruatapu Cave. The cave goes down 35 metres to a hot pool at the bottom called Waiwhakaata (Pool of Mirrors) and is one of the two known caves in the world located in a geothermal field.
Aside from the beauty of it all – from the moment you walk in there is a sense of overwhelming calm and peace there. It feels like the type of place that you could write for hours in or just sit and reflect. While access to the pool is prohibited, a zoom on your camera (or they helpfully have a replica on the viewing platform) reveals a poignant memorial to two brothers lost in the war, one of whom the plaque reads “spirit hovers in this lovely cave where as a lad he guided and delighted visitors with his manly bearing”. I get a sense from this cave that 22 year old Atama Mikaere was indeed a special man if his spirit is what gives this cave the sense of peace it processes.
There are many tracks to wander down and you could spend hours here but in the heat of summer after and hour or two you will be ready for a quick dip somewhere (we recommend Reids Farm).
You can find out more about Orakei Korako here – I would thoroughly recommend it!