Fodor's Expert Review Orakei Korako
Even if you've seen enough bubbling pools and fuming craters to last a lifetime, the thermal valley of Orakei Korako is still likely to captivate you. Geyser-fed streams hiss and steam as they flow into the waters of the lake, and a cream-and-pink silica terrace is believed to be the largest in the world since the volcanic destruction of the terraces of Rotomahana. At the bottom of Aladdin's Cave, the vent of an ancient volcano, a jade-green pool was once used by Māori women as a beauty parlor, which is where the name Orakei Korako (a place of adorning) originated. The valley is 37 km (23 miles) north of Taupo, via Highway 1, and takes about 25 minutes to reach by car; you could always see it en route to or from Rotorua, which lies another 68 km (43 miles) northeast of the valley.