• Te Pā Tū

    Travelling from Taupō to Rotorua along the Thermal Explorer Highway

November 30, 2022

The Thermal Explorer Highway is one of New Zealand’s iconic drives – from the lakeside township of Taupō through to the geothermal capital of Rotorua. 80 kilometres in distance, you could do the entire trip in an hour, but where’s the fun in that? Here’s some of our fave spots to break up the drive and make it a roadie to remember. 

Race down the river with Rapids Jet 

The Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest awa, flows from Lake Taupō and is worth exploring before you head out of town. Don’t miss Huka Falls, the Honey Hive and Prawn Park, but for the ultimate adventure, the rapids are best seen aboard a jetboat. Rapids Jet’s 35-minute adrenaline blast ticks all the boxes with plenty of spins, squeals, and splashes! Speed down the river and experience the unique sensation of white-water jetboat surfing, before you dry off and continue along the highway.

Rapids Jet

Get your geothermal fix at Orakei Korako 

Gushing geysers, bubbling mud pools, lava flows and more await when you visit Orakei Korako. A short detour off State Highway 5, this geothermal valley is worth the side trip. Wandering across brilliantly coloured silica terraces that will make you feel like you’re in a different planet – you’ll leave with a full camera roll and some incredible memories. 

Orakei Korako

Credit: Barekiwi

Enter a wondrous volcanic wonderland at Waimangu  

Waimangu Volcanic Valley is another geothermal must-do with plenty of star attractions including the bright-blue Inferno Crater, the steaming Cathedral Rocks, and the Frying Pan Lake – the largest hot water spring in the world. Embark on a self-guided walk and see the sights at your own pace, followed by a boat ride around Lake Rotomahana, the original home of the now-buried Pink and White Terraces. 

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Unwind and re-energise in the Waikite Hot Pools  

Overlooking a beautiful botanical valley, this is your chance to experience the ‘Living Waters’ of the Te Manaroa Spring – the largest single source of 100% pure boiling geothermal water in New Zealand. Six unique pools with temperatures ranging between 35 and 40°C offer different bathing experiences, nestled amongst idyllic native gardens. Visit with the whānau or opt for a private pool for a more romantic escape. 

Waikite Valley Thermal Pools

An evening like no other at Te Pā Tū 

If you’ve been searching for a way to connect with and learn about New Zealand’s indigenous Māori culture, this is it. This four-hour evening experience is an immersive journey into the history, traditions, and future aspirations of the local Māori people, as you’re invited to come together, share stories and feast on kai (food). Highlights include fire ceremonies, outdoor kapa haka performances and torchlit walks through the village. You’ll be well nourished with a menu that pays tribute to seasonal Māori flavours and serves these on a modern plate – it’s a night that will stay with you long after the sun sets. 

Te Pā Tū

Credit: Miles Holden

The Thermal Explorer Highway is one that shouldn’t be rushed. It rewards the curious, the discoverers and those hungry for adventure (and delicious cuisine!). So don’t rush, take the scenic route, and you’ll have an unforgettable time. 

Hold on tight! The Aratiatia Rapids rolls out quite the impressive welcome mat 😎 Did you know the rapids are released three times a day in winter, sending out a torrent of cascading water from the dam gates? Credit: @Torisgoodlife #RapidsJet #Taupo #NZadventure #ThrillSeeker #Aratiatia #NZtravel #NZmustdo
Jumping off the boat grinning from ear-to-ear, that’s the Rapids Jet effect! #HappyNationalSmileDay ☀️ #Taupo #RapidsJet #Happiness #PureJoy #Waikato
Hands up for the long weekend! It’s time for a royally good adventure with Rapids Jet – the jewel in Taupō’s crown. We’re open every day over King’s Birthday weekend 👑🚤 #Taupo #RapidsJet #NZ #LongWeekend #NZRapids
Stretch your legs after your ride with this must-do walk in @lovetauponz 🚶‍♀️🚶‍♂️ Aratiatia Rapids will blow your mind as millions of litres of water erupts and cascades over the stream below – it’s a sight for all the senses 🙌 #AratiatiaRapids #RapidsJet #OutdoorAdventures #Taupo
Discover the magic of the river where scenes from “The Hobbit” were filmed. An adventure fit for Bilbo himself 🌄✨ Relive the magic of the iconic barrels scene with our thrilling jetboat experience. #AratiatiaRapids #RapidsJet #OutdoorAdventures
Overdue for a romantic getaway with your partner? Whether it’s a date, an anniversary, or just a cute weekend break, Taupō offers a mixture of stunning scenery, thrilling activities, and relaxing spa treatments to suit every couple ❤️ Check out the link in bio to get inspired! #RomanticGetaway #Taupo #NZ #RapidsJet #NZMustDo
Smiles all round! Happy Mother’s Day from our whānau to yours 🥰 #RapidsJet #Taupo #JetBoat #NZActivities #WhiteWaterRafting #Waikato
Like a rollercoaster, but on the water – hold on tight for the ride of your life 🎢💦 #Taupo #RapidsJet #NZ #NZMustDo #NZTravel
See more and spend less with our all-new package deal that encompasses the best of Rotorua and Taupō 😍 Geysers and mud pools in the morning, jetboating in the afternoon, and feasting on Māori kai and culture in the evening? Sounds like the perfect day to us! Book your combo online now – incredible stories and gorgeous scenery await at @Te Pa Tu and @WaioTapu ✨ #NZ #Taupo #Rotorua #ComboDeal #Package #Culture #Adventure #Thrills #NZTravel
Family bonding, adrenaline-style 🙌😎 Reuniting with the cousins or getting the squad together soon? Book out an entire boat trip for yourselves or get amongst our daily departures! #familyfun #grouptravel #rapidsjet #NZ #Taupo
Nature is our playground – where every splash tells a story 🌊🚤 #RapidsJet #Taupo #NZNature #JetBoat #NZ #NZTravel
A shout-out to our superstar team 🙏🦸‍♂️ Our crew are all about making sure you have a great experience from start to finish – and making every spin and splash a memorable one! #EmployeeAppreciation #NZTravel #RapidsJet #Taupo
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