Having seen some very expensive offers of guided tours with helicopters (don't understand why this noisy machines are allowed !!!) or 4WD's, we decided to some hiking.
From the car park at Ash Pit Road it takes about 13/4 hour to reach the entrance booth. Here we had to pay our entrance tickets (NZD 46,- for two people; this maori tribe doesn't make friends !!) and had to subscribe in a visitor book (on your way down you do have to unsubscribe, so nobody get lost) and did get a kind of safety briefing.
Although we thought we were already on the top it took another 1/2 hour to reach the summit at 1.111 metres. But our reward was fantastic !!!
What a breathtaking view we had from the ridge into the crater chasm. It looks like the whole mountain is sliced open.
We walked along the ridge and decided to go down. It was so steep and full of red and black scoria, which still has a thickness of 50 cm's on some places. Our shoes became full with little lava stones, so we had to slide into the crater over the scree.
Once we reached the ridge again, we enjoyed the view from Mt. Ruapehu till White Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Walking down was a lot easier and besides we could see more of the scenery in front of us. We were rather tired after 20km's hiking, but what an experience !!!
The eruption of Mt. Tarawera took place in 1886 and was the biggest in the recent history of New Zealand. The eruption lasted 5 hours and caused a huge rift in the volcano's. Villages were destroyed and 150 people died.
Mount Tarawera is an impressive dormant volcano near Rotorua. On 10 June 1886 it erupted with tremendous force and killed 153 people. The entire volcano is on Maori land and is considered sacred because of the people who were buried there as a result of the eruption. As such, the mountain is private property and cannot be explored alone, but only through the single official tour company.
My wife and I took a standard tour package one afternoon. We travelled to and up the mountain by 4WD minibus, which proved to be essential as the dirt road to the summit was in terrible condition. Once at the base of the volcano crater, we hiked along the crater edge to the very summit, at 1111 meters in elevation. From there we hiked down into the deepest part of the crater itself and then back out again. The mountain and crater are spectacular and offer some of the best views you can imagine, but the hike was actually quite strenuous. You also have the option to take a less strenuous hike if you don't think you are up for the hard one. And if you really want to go all out, you can have a helicopter pick you up at the summit and fly you around the crater.
Great experience overall, but again like so much else in NZ it was very expensive at NZ$110 per person!