It costs $18pp to walk the Wairakei Terraces Walkway, we suggest checking out Bookme and GrabOne as they often offer 50% discount for both the walkway and thermal pools ($25pp not discounted). We got 50% discount via GrabOne and given the walk is short (around 30 minutes) and doesn’t have the variety of geothermal activity as some of the other sites we think at 50% off it’s good value, at $18pp not so much.
At the start of the walkway you see water flowing over the terraces into the thermal pools. The terraces are man made and are modelled on the Pink and White Terraces that were once known as the 8th Wonder of the World before being lost in the 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption. Remnants of the terraces have since been found in Lake Rotomahana.
Continuing down the walkway you view the terraces from different angles. Although the terraces are man made, the crystallised silica deposits are a natural result of the water flow.
The water flow comes from a man made geyser that draws hot mineral water from 1.5kms underground. The water is cooled in two cooling ponds before cascading over the terraces into the pools. The geyser eruption creates a lot of steam and on our visit the super steamy surroundings made the constant geyser eruption almost invisible ……
The last part of the walk is through a small replica Maori village. Structures include whare (huts) and a pataka (storehouse for food), entry to a pataka is via a trap door in the floor.
Maori who settled in this area believed the water had healing powers. The valley was known as Waiora (healthy waters) and it was a ‘no war’ zone during inter tribal warfare. This meant that warriors from any tribe were welcome to bathe in the hot pools to help heal their wounds. Today visitors can bathe in the water reputed to assist in collagen generation and relieve symptoms of arthritis.
Continuing the theme of best reasons to visit a geothermal site, we think that given the walk is short, combining it with a soak in the hot pools (and nabbing a 50% discount on the sites mentioned above) make it worth the visit. (Note the hot pools are only for those aged over 14 years). You will find Wairakei Terraces 8kms north of Taupo opposite Wairakei Resort Hotel.