I booked two more trips, just for myself as Kevin decided not to come on either. He has trouble with his knees and doesn’t like much downhill walking. So, I have coming up a walk along the Tarawera Trail (the trail itself doesn’t need booking, just the water taxi ride back) and a walk up Mt Tarawera (privately owned so can only be done by joining a tour). In the meantime, today we walked up Rainbow Mountain.
Neither Kevin nor I had ever heard of Rainbow Mountain until we were treating our clothes to a laundry visit in Rotorua and got talking with a woman there. She said her daughter had just been to the top of it, on a school trip, and showed us a photo she’d been sent. The girl was peeping out along with her friends, from underneath a trig station. We were sold, and on one of our lazy days we took ourselves up for a visit.
The mountain’s Māori name is Maungakakaramea, or ‘mountain of coloured earth’. Rainbow Mountain is situated less than 30 kilometres southeast of Rotorua travelling on the road towards Taupo. It to just over 700 metres in height, but it’s only a 300 metre climb from the carpark over 3.5 kilometres of distance.
For perspective, and because I keep bringing it up, Rainbow Mountain sits just outside the southern boundary of the Okataina Caldera (and it should be said that the Okataina Caldera is just 1 of about 25 caldera in the Taupo Volcanic Zone). Although Rainbow Mountain hasn’t erupted for a long time it is still regarded as active.
The mountain also sits on the northern-most end of the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Field, which is why we see all the steam vents on it today.
Yet another interesting thing about Rainbow Mountain is that while it is part of one geothermal field, it also sits just south of another one – the geologically young Waimangu Valley to the north. Waimangu lies at the southernmost point of the eruption of Mt Tarawera and only formed with the eruption. We didn’t get to Waimangu Valley, and it’s turned out to be one of my biggest regrets, making it a given that we’ll be back here before long!