When I dived into the lake I passed through a patch of hot water. “Ouch.” Seconds later the water cooled, and my head was relieved to feel the cooling sensation it craved after a hot 16-kilometre walk around the shore of Lake Tarawera. Hot Water Beach, true to its name, producing scalding hot water in places with telltale puffs of steam rising from the surface.

Di, Rebecca, Jane, Denise and Clare at Lake Tarawera

The scenic Tarawera Walk is a partnership between several Māori land trusts and the Department of Conservation. The trail starts at Te Wairoa near the Buried Village, and follows the contours of the lake through a forest of tall ponga trees, past several bays and areas of regenerating forest, to Hot Water Beach. The return journey to Tarawera Landing is by water taxi, a welcome ride across the lake after the long walk.

Rotorua is a popular destination for international tourists, who come to the geothermal area to see boiling mud pools, hydrothermal valleys and Māori culture. It is also a great place for New Zealanders to explore, as Rotorua has a range of activities including a choice of 31 hikes, a mountain-bike park with numerous trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest, a treewalk high up in a forest of California redwoods, fishing, golf, jet boats, waterskiing, a maze, a gondola ride and a mud covered spa are among the choices.

A reflective morning in Tikitapu/Blue Lake

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