Tokaanu Thermal Pools sits just outside of Turangi. A true hidden gem. Go for a quick walk around the loop track, marvel in the natural creations of the thermal pools then take a dip in the hot pools. The hot pools are a perfect way to relax after a hard day. When some friends, my son and I did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing we ended the day in the Tokaanu Thermal Pools. By the end of the Crossing, it became the carrot in front of us, encouraging us to go on. That and the slippers waiting in the car.
Time 15-20 minutes for the loop track
Difficulty very low. The wide boardwalk is perfect for pushchairs and wheelchairs making this an ideal walk for young families
Access Tokaanu is situated about 5 km from Turangi. Head towards National Park from Turangi but instead of turning off, keep going straight until you reach Tokaanu, the entrance for the thermal pools is on the left where there is a large car park
Fitness very low. The loop track is flat and short
A wee bit o’ history
Tokaanu has a long Maori history. The people of local Maori tribe, Ngati Kurauia have lived alongside the Tokaanu Stream and thermal area since the 16th century. The thermal pools are still used for relaxation, bathing and the therapeutic qualities the thermal pools offer. The continuous natural supply of hot water and steam vents are still used for communal cooking as well as treating and whitening the flax before weaving.
I would imagine that the steam coming from the ground would make a cosy sleeping spot during cooler nights.
Tokaanu Thermal Pools Loop Walk
This short loop walk only takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete winding around the various thermal pools. This was a spur of the moment stop for me on my road trip one afternoon when I needed to stretch my legs. I had my eyes on a longer hike but when looking up at the full clouds, thought that it might be safer to tackle a shorter walk.
Even though I always keep my hiking boots in the back of my car for such occasions, this walk can easily be done in slippers. I may or may not know this from past experience.
A special place in my wee ‘eart
My parents used to take me on this walk when I was younger when we camped at Lake Taupo yearly. I now take my own children who have the same fascination as I did.
Over the years I have lost count of how many times I have completed the loop but it never fails to amaze me. The various colours of the pools are mesmerising. Each natural spring is a different hue of green, blue or randomly enough, orange. The glooping mud conjures up images of boiling porridge. Or a witches brew if you let your imagination run away. Which mine often does.
What to expect
I managed to complete the loop twice, once one way and back through again in half an hour. Going back through again is much nicer than just walking the 10m up the path back to the bridge.
Tokaanu Thermal Pools is simply beautiful. As you walk around expect to see various natural thermal pools, some green, some orange, some blue, some bubbling, others calm. Several mud pools sit just off the track. You can hear the glooping of the bubbling mud before you see them.
Some Tips and To Do’s
- Stick to the track and don’t wander off. The barriers are there for a reason. The thermal pools get very hot and the land can be unstable
- Take lots of photos. You may need to wait for your camera to adjust at times due to the steam
- Pack your togs (swimming gear if you aren’t Kiwi. To pick up the lingo I have a quick crash course on how to speak En Zedd). The hot pools are a great way to unwind. If you can, go at night and swim under the blanket of stars
- Don’t touch the mud. No matter how tempting it is
- Be respectful. There are areas where you cannot enter as it is private land. Please don’t enter them as the local Maori use it
- See how many Rainbow Trout you can spot swimming under the bridge at the entrance. If you are lucky you might see an eel slinking away. There is trout food available from the Tokaanu Thermal Pools shop if you have little ones they will love feeding the fish
- In the summer be on the look out for cicadas. They hang out in the trees on the side of the track. If you sneak up you can spot them clinging to the branch pretending they aren’t there
- For more information on opening hours, prices etc check out the Great Lake Taupo website
If you are travelling the North Island and happen to be near Taupo or Tongariro National Park you should definitely stop off in Tokaanu for an afternoon or evening. Perfect for everyone of all ages, the natural beauty of this spot won’t fail to awe you.
For more pictures of Tokaanu Thermal Pools, be sure to check out that Facebook Album on the that Kiwi Hiker Facebook Page.
A pleasant easy walk with spectacular views. What more could you ask for?
Where is your favourite hidden gem?
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