Drive your campervan hire about 45 minutes south from the popular town of Rotorua and you’ll find yourself in an effervescing, elemental wonderland.
Steaming pools, erupting geysers, and multi-coloured terraces adorn the geothermal park found at the center of New Zealand’s North Island. Further along the park’s meandering walkway is a cave—one of the only two in the world set in a geothermal area—at the bottom of which is a warm acid pool.
This is Orakei Korako, the country’s largest geyser field, and one of its best-kept secrets. It’s a spectacular site, and a lovely respite from the touristy goings-on in Rotorua, for the curious, the adventurous, and families with mini-humans in tow.
It’s Off The Beaten Path
Aptly dubbed “The Hidden Valley”, Orakei Korako stays wonderfully off the radar for most tourists that descend on New Zealand every year. Most travellers, after all, default to the beaches, cities, and themed areas for their family holiday, or only make it as far as Rotorua to experience the town’s Māori mania.
It is this offbeatness that makes Orakei Korako a sight worth pulling over your campervan hire for and exploring. It’s never overcrowded. It is, therefore, easy and comfortable for families travelling with kids, and also an ideal place to take in some of nature’s most fascinating creations on a languid pace.
The Facilities Are Family-Friendly
It isn’t just its treasury of attractions that make a place truly family-friendly. As many families know, the facilities available are as important. At Orakei Korako, the amenities are just as friendly to families with kids as the geothermal experience itself.
Among its family-friendly features are the network of ramps and walkways that is very suitable for young kids and older adults, and the onsite beach that visitors are able enjoy in the summertime.
Other amenities that families will appreciate include the baby backpacks, provided complimentary to those with little ones under two years of age; wheelchair access to the visitor centre; a souvenir shop that sells knick-knacks and mud beauty products; WiFi access, which especially comes in handy when you have teens in the family; and the Mudcake Café, where beautiful views of Lake Ohakuri are as much on offer as delicious drinks, pies and sandwiches.
It’s never too early to teach kids about the wonders of nature and science, and Orakei Korako is just the ticket for that. Learning about this unique type of environment is one of the many joys that come with your visit.
Take the kids on a journey through this highly active geothermal area, and discover how the silica terraces were formed and how geysers work. Find out why the surface of the Emerald Terrace looks like an artist’s palette with its black, yellow and green colours. Study the surround flora. And learn about how the Māori people utilised Orakei Korako’s hot springs in their every day life.
Campervans Are Welcome
Families in a rental campervan need not worry. One of the best things about Orakei Korako is that it is campervan friendly.
The geothermal area boasts a car park that, for an extra fee, allows overnight parking for families travelling in campervan hire holiday. So long as their vehicles are self-contained, families are allowed to stay onsite.
The fringe benefit? Well, they get to see and even enjoy Lake Ohakuri the way only a handful of people have—in the evening when no one else is around.
It’s Out of This World
With geysers spouting water as high as nine metres, constantly bubbling mud, clear blue pools with steam coming out of them, and scarps covered in white, crystal-like coating, Orakei Korako is not only stunning and brimming with Instagram-worthy spots. It can also look and feel like you’ve just landed on a whole new planet.
As kids are very visual creatures, there’s little doubt that a few hours at the park will be an enchanting and unforgettable visit for them. So load up that hired campervan and take the kids on an unearthly adventure to one of New Zealand’s most incredible natural wonders.