About half an hour's car trip away from Lake Taupo is the hidden valley of Orakei Korako, a thermal park. The Lonely Planet Traveller's Guide hails Orakei Korako as "possibly the best thermal area left in New Zealand and one of the finest in the world", so I feel priviledged indeed to see this wonder of Nature up close and personal.
To go to the park itself, you must take a brief boat ride across Waikato River. From there, you can take an unescorted walk on the park across well-maintained paths. Armed with a map, various areas of the park are highlighted. Warning signs are also very visible, as heat from the many vents are definitely things you have to steer clear of, and are best admired from afar.
The parts I like most about the trip are the boat ride, the rainbow terrace with its various colours resulting from the superheated minerals, the bubbling mud pools (definitely not the mud bath variety!), the Fleece which was a white wall of crystal formation, and the cave which reminded me of my spelunking days back in the Philippines.
Here are some more photos of that wonderful trip to Orakei Korako.