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Day walks

Rainbow Mountain Rotorua day walk

  • 2 minutes

Rotorua, North Island

Unforgettable scenic attractions

Climb above the bubbling steaming vents of Rotorua. Enjoy bird’s eye views of Rotorua. Discover vivid crater lakes sparkling with mineral geothermal energy and coloured cliffs.

Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand
Waimangu Volcanic Valley


  • Crater Lake viewing platform of piercing blue lakes
  • Outstanding views of Rotorua’s geothermal activity
  • Spot Waimangu volcanic valley with its steaming vents
  • Lake Tarawera and Mt Tarawera
  • Collapse on bench seat looking across pine forests of Maungaongaonga

You have the option of turning back and returning to the car park as you reach the finish line for the Crater Lake Walk.

Rainbow Mountain walk continues to climb through regenerating native vegetation and past the bare, coloured and steaming ridges. While you are climbing there are ample chances to view the countryside. For sweeping views the summit is the goal with its 360 degrees. Check for occasional forestry vehicles and whizzing mountain bikes as you cross summit road. There is approximately 10 -15 minutes walking distance to the summit.

From here you can see Mt Tarawera; Lakes Tarawera, Rotomahana and Rerewhakaaitu to the north; the Paeroa Range to the west; the Urewera Ranges and Kaimanawa Forest to the east; and Mt Tauhara, Lake Taupō and the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park to the south.

Rainbow Mountain, North Island, New Zealand
Rainbow Mountain
Lake Tarawera lookout point, New Zealand
Lake Tarawera lookout point


Rainbow Mountain lies 26 km south-east of Rotorua, beside SH 5 (the Rotorua-Taupo highway). Approaching from Rotorua the car park is situated just past the turnoff for SH 38 (the Murupara/ Waikeremoana highway), on the left-hand side of the road.

Cyclists can reach Rainbow Mountain by following Te Ara Ahi (external site), a 66 km section of the Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail that includes Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve. For more information check DOC Rainbow Mountain-Crater Lake walk. This walk is part of the Unforgettable walks in New Zealand series.

  • Start / Finish: Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve car park
  • Length: 7 km
  • Grade: Moderate, hill climbing on well formed tracks

Read more about places to visit in Rotorua in our Rotorua travel guide.


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