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Summit Rainbow Mountain

2208 Thermal Explorer Highway, New Zealand



3.1 miles

Elevation Gain

1148.3 ft

Route Type



Added by Tiffany Young

THIS is the 360° view you're looking for while you're in the North Island.

Heading to Taupo or Rotorua? Well be sure to make some time for this incredible tramp right off of SH 5 on your way there! Rainbow Mountain is a well maintained track over geothermal activities with amazing views. Give yourself 2.5 to 3 hours time and you'll be rewarded when you reach the summit.

The trail starts wide and gravel and becomes clay as you ascend. If the conditions are wet, be very cautious as the path gets slippery and some parts of the clay track are more difficult to maneuver around.

From the base of the track, take a short 10 minute walk to Crater Lake then return to the main trail for another 10 minutes before turning left at a wooden fence, (for trampers and uphill biking only) this then becomes a gradual climb up to the summit.

Tramp between the bush and enjoy several different view points! You'll notice as certain spots you walk over, it will feel a bit warm. Hello geothermal activity! But don't get off the trail because these are hot thermal vents.

The last 10-15 minutes are the most strenuous as you ascend the steep hill, but I promise you... it'll be well worth it when you reach the top! The views are endless. "You can see Mt Tarawera; Lakes Tarawera, Rotomahana and Rerewhakaaitu to the north; the Paeroa Range to the west; the Urewera Ranges and Kaimanawa Forest to the east; and Mt Tauhara, Lake Taupo and the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park to the south." - DOC/for more information!

...but really you should just go see it for yourself!

P.S. Instead of turning left for the summit, you can keep walking straight and follow a track from this trailhead to Kerosene Creek, but be warned, the path can get very... thorny and a little ruthless.

P.S.S. For the MTB riders, here's the intense grade 4 Te Tihi O Ruru track for you to conquer up! You'll be rewarded with a crazy grade 4 downhill ride on Te Ranga down to Kerosene Creek where you can relax your feet and get back on the grade 2 Te Ara Ahi trail. 

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Mountain Biking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Hike the Rainbow Mountain Track to Crater Lake

Swim in Kerosene Creek

Hike around Lake Tikitapu

Experience the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley in Rotorua

Walk to Sulphur Point

Explore Kuirau Park