It’s well worth taking a boat and visiting the Wairua Stream. DOC has cleaned up the stream (which used to be a bit slimy) and built some stairs to get in. The water was lovely and clear when we visited in December 2011 a few days before writing this. It takes less than 1m to walk to the bathing area from the lake’s edge. I have been there many times and we have always been the only people there. (The picture to the right with lots of people was our group). [Diana Clement, New Zealand]
By boat, launch at Stoney Point and head straight across Lake Tarawera to the mysterious-looking headlands to the right of the dominant Mt Tarawera.
Go straight through these narrow headlands, beyond which the lake opens out to reveal a hidden mini-lake. Steer gently to starboard, make for the only beach in this area.
This beach area is a DOC public camping ground, a haven for water-skiers and fishers alike. New Years and Easter holiday breaks become indelible memories as the remoteness and bountiful natural resource combine to provide an environment where city living habits are at odds with where you are now.
The cliff at the right-hand end of the sandy beach has a gentle-flowing but scalding hot waterfall - take a bucket which you fill halfway with cold lake water before topping with thermal flow, then pour the lot over yourself for a supreme shower.The grassy embankment bordering the beach hides a small steaming creek in which campers have fashioned makeshift spa pools from volcanic rock. Ranging from temporary to substantial, midnight star-gazing has never felt so good as from the heated luxury of a seat in one of these simple creations.
The final, and largest treat is a 500m boat trip away, past the cliff and further around the bay. The wide-mouthed stream isn't navigable by boat so pull up on the reedy bank and take a short walk along the pathway well worn by 40 years of anglers and hunters to the expansive, bath-like hot pools where hours can simply melt away.
Even in the chill of winter rain, a hat to ward the downpour from your face is all you'll need - simply tuck in deeper to the comforting heated waters.
The area is also accessible by foot, although it's a decent tramp from the foot of the mountain whose explosive history still provides unending warmth for visitors to this particularly magical spot. [Brett Patchett, Auckland]
Lynette - NZ
22th October 2012
Bren - Christchurch
13th April 2011
Julianne Wright (Roe) - Sydney formerly Rotorua
13th August 2005
11th August 2005
Joan King - Rotorua
10th August 2005