Once devastated by the 1886 Tarawera eruption, the Tarawera Trail represents a return of the people to their land and the birthplace of tourism in New Zealand.
The track begins at Te Wairoa car park, off Tarawera Road, with opening views of beautiful Lake Tarawera. Follow the lake side trail through Katukutuku Bay and, 5 km in to the trail, stop at Hawaiki Bay to enjoy lake access and a picnic area with toilet facilities.
The track continues with intermittent climbs, through lakeside bushland into Te Hinau Bay, passing over Twin Streams cold springs.
After an uphill climb to reach the Rotomahana lookout point, descend into Te Rata Bay to enjoy a soak at Hot Water Beach, but be careful - localised patches of sand are very hot.
The trail starts at Te Wairoa car park on Tarawera Road, an easy and scenic 15 minute drive from Rotorua past Blue lake (Tikitapu).
A water taxi is available to ferry passengers from the end of the track at Hot Water Beach to Tarawera Landing, approximately 5 km from Te Wairoa carpark - make your own arrangements between the landing and the carpark. The gate to the car park will be open during daylight hours only.
If walking the track in reverse, the water taxi can also ferry walkers from Tarawera Landing to Hot Water Beach.
Pre-booking the water taxi in either direction is essential. Find commercial operators for Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve.
A short section of this track suffers from occasional rock falls. Do not stop on the track between the sign posts indicating this hazard.
Water collected from the lake or streams may contain the naturally occurring chemical arsenic, commonly found in volcanic and geothermal areas. It is recommended you bring your own water.
Dogs, horses, vehicles (including bicycles and motorbikes), fires, removal of plants or animals and hunting are not permitted along the trail.
Do not overestimate your capabilities. Consider booking a campsite or a water taxi rather than attempt to walk the trail in both directions in one day if you are not an experienced walker.
Mobile phone coverage is limited. This could mean a delay in contacting emergency services should the need arise. Carry a first aid kit and plenty of drinking water.
Koi carp Image: Dave West
Report any sightings of koi carp (3-70 cm) or catfish (3-40 cm). Other fish of particular concern are rudd and gambusia.
You can help by photographing any specimens caught and forwarding to your local DOC office and by following Check Clean Dry protocols.
Invasive species are a problem because they reduce water quality and can compete with native species and trout.
For further information, or to report suspicious fish, contact your local DOC office or phone 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)
Auckland and parts of the Waikato are at Level 3. DOC huts and campsites are closed in these regions. The rest of New Zealand is at Level 2.