Orakei Korako, Taupo, New Zealand
Orakei Korako, also known as the Hidden Valley, is located south of Rotorua and north of Taupo. This famous geothermal area is as active as it is beautiful and many visitors are attracted by the fantastic walking areas, caves and other natural formations. If you are passing through or visiting Taupo, a trip to Orakei Korako should certainly make the list of things to do.
Then and now
The area was originally occupied by the native Maori people. During the 19th century, they presumably flocked here to make the most of the hot springs for cooking and bathing. There is no specific date marking their exit from these parts but history suggests that it may have been in 1886. It was then that Mount Tarawera erupted and apparently changed the surrounding waters quite dramatically.
In the early part of the 20th century, the area became a tourist attraction and later the development of a hydro-power system was approved and constructed.
Today, we can see that no other major development has occurred in the area and visitors are able to enjoy their natural surroundings to the fullest.
Top things to see at Orakei Korako
Being a geothermal area, it is understandable that there are many related formations and characteristics here. From geysers and mud pools to terraces and even caves, this wondrous area will blow you away!
The jade-green Emerald Terrace is the lowest of all terraces in the area and the largest of its kind in New Zealand. The Rainbow and Cascade Terraces are also fantastic to see.
The Ruatapu Cave is one of only two known to exist in this area. It extends for 45 meters with a 23 meter drop off into a clear sulphate-rich pool. The warm acid waters are known for their jewellery cleaning properties.
Another main attraction in this area is the Soda Fountain that came to life in 1984 after being dormant for 17 years.
There are plenty of other geysers and geothermal attractions in this zone. When visiting, take your time to make your way through and take in as many of the natural sites as possible. Don't forget your camera! You won't want to miss out on some of the most amazing photo opportunities!
It is important to understand that this area has been as well preserved as possible. You won't find it to be an over commercialised area but rather a chance to enjoy nature at its best. It is also important to note that swimming is not permitted. Hot springs and spas designed for this purpose are plentiful in New Zealand but the Hidden Valley is a scenic attraction for visitors to take in the views and marvel at the fascinating geothermal activity that surrounds them.