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Among its tranquil lakes and bush-clad hills, New Zealand’s Thermal Plateau hides a Dante-esque world of bubbling mud pools and gushing geysers; this is a region rich with the geothermal energy of the earth’s molten core.

A rift valley 155 miles (250 km) long runs from Mount Ruapehu in the south, through Rotorua and north to the country’s most active volcano, White Island, in the Bay of Plenty.

This geothermal activity not only shaped the landscape but also the culture of the region, with many geographical features delineating tribal boundaries and perceived as areas of great sacredness.

The Thermal Plateau's natural wonders

The region is rich in natural wonders, including cave formations where glow-worms scatter like constellations among the stalactites, crystal-clear rivers that spill into dramatic waterfalls and pristine trout-filled lakes, and snow-capped peaks that rise above dense native forests, making it is easy to understand its spiritual importance.

Maori culture

The region is one of the best to experience Maori culture and the ideal place to sample a traditional hangi (feast) or attend an energetic kapa haka (song and dance display).

The Thermal Discovery Highway

One of the country’s greatest touring routes, the Thermal Discovery Highway, links the geothermal and cultural highlights of a fascinating, ever-changing landscape and offers something enticing around every corner.

Start planning your trip to New Zealand

Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They’re just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.

Some of our favorite places on the Thermal Plateau

Some of our favorite places on the Thermal Plateau

Accommodation options on the Thermal Plateau

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