This is a fantastic and oft overlooked track. Undoubtedly (would you doubt me?) this is the finest viewpoint since the crater of Mt. Ngauruhoe. Really! This is why: first you’ve got a well-made track that brings you up to a couple of hidden crater lakes backed by bizarre steaming red and white cliffs. Continuing up the steeper part of the track to the top of the 743m peak you’ll find a lookout building and a nice grassy picnic lawn. Here’s the good part…from this peak your gaze sweeps over the most unique spots on this adjective-riddled island. How ‘bout 8 different lakes including Tarawera and Waiotapu’s green Lake Ngakoro. How ‘bout mountains from Tarawera, past Tauhara, down to Ruapehu. How ‘bout geothermal steam from Waimangu’s Lake Rotomahana, Waikite Valley’s plumes, Ohaaki’s 100m cooling tower, and all the steam pools around the Waiotapu Tavern. So Many Sights—be sure to bring a map!
The best time to do this track is at 9am. (This is why you bought this guidebook I hope…to get perspective.) Why? Because in the morning the air is a bit chillier so you get to see more steam from the cliffs. But, better still, is that at exactly 10:15am a bag of soap is poured into Lady Knox Geyser, adding its steam plume to the visual pizzazz. Look to the south (on a line with the cooling tower) and listen for the camera clicks!