Rainbow Mountain Summit Track...

Rainbow Mountain Summit Track (Maungakaramea)


20 Rankers Reviews

17 Face-to-Face

5 Waiotapu

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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5 km return | 3 hours return to summit

Rainbow Mountain has been an active geothermal area for several hundred years and a reserve since 1903. The surface features are a manifestation of the extensive Waimangu / Waiotapu hydrothermal field.

Aptly named Rainbow Mountain due to the unusual colour of the soil. Busy geothermal activity and a pleasant walk through native bush to the summit.


Rainbow Mountain is signposted 500 metres after the turnoff to S.H.38, 29km south of Rotorua on S.H.5.


Maungakaramea is an active geothermal area with a fragile ecosystem. You MUST stay on the track at all times.

To the Crater Lake, the track is narrow and even. It climbs gently for 10 minutes to a junction, 1 minute from the Crater Lake lookout.

The main track climbs steadily on a mostly even surface for 1¼ hours to a junction with the metalled road. The summit is a further 5 minutes.


The Crater Lakes nestle at the foot of a scarlet and white cliffs, encrusted with sporadic clumps of tenacious vegetation. The colours arise from the hydrothermal activity, which cooks the rock to release minerals and chemically alters their composition.

The lake visible from the lookout is a milky peppermint colour and is accompanied by the bubbling of nearby hydrothermal outlets. Steaming fumaroles vent wisps of cloudy vapour on the hilltop above.


Much of the vegetation on the mountain is directly related to the thermal conditions, with periods of cooling interspersed with episodes of burning. A mosaic of tall shrubland, low forest and isolated stands of kamahi forest cloak the slopes.

Rare vegetation includes prostrate kanuka, threatened orchids and tropical ferns on the warm slopes.


The lakes harbour a biota very restricted in distribution, which includes thermophyllic bacteria and enzymes.


Feature Value Info


DOC Bay of Plenty

Central government organisation


North IslandRotorua RegionWaiotapu


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 20.

Mike Fricker's avatar

Mike Fricker

United Kingdom

Ranking: 8/10

22Sept18. Stopped by and walked to the crater. That was good. Not enough time for the longer walks.
The car park is more of a lay by for storage of gravel and was very uneven and bumpy when we were there hence only 8.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Eva Hesse's avatar

Eva Hesse


Ranking: 7/10

This was an easy track on a cloudy day. Nevertheless, the volcanic activities on the mountain are astounding! Fumeroles are everywhere, sulphur and other gasses perfuming the area! Amazing that track finished at Kerosene Creek where we took a warm bath.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in October 2016

Maria Eriksson's avatar

Maria Eriksson


Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful walk if you take all of it - and not only the last part from the parking lot. Possibilities to take a swim/dip in the warm weather. Quite a lot of people.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Sebastian's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful walk to a hot pool.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Thank You - to the thousands of travellers that have contributed to our Top Voted NZ Activities Map - it's free from Rankers.

Lucie Revay's avatar

Lucie Revay

Ranking: 7/10

The view from top was OK for me, I wouldn't go again. What I liked most was the Blue lake. Fascinating colour!

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Til Schaebitz's avatar

Til Schaebitz


Ranking: 9/10

One of the most underrated DOC walks. Blue Crater lake, red rocks, not too exhausting, but not for wheelchairs.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Daniel's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Nice trekking to the top of a hill with a lookout of all the surrounding area including a beautiful blue lake and ending in some really hot thermal springs with a nice waterfall - all free.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Ludovica Velo's avatar

Ludovica Velo


Ranking: 8/10

360 degree view of the landscape! If the weather is good you can see both Taupo and Rotorua, lakes, forests, and Tongariro.

Reviewed about 6 years ago

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Michal Kamradek's avatar

Michal Kamradek

Czech Republic

Ranking: 9/10

Nice lookout, a rainbow if you are lucky.

Reviewed about 7 years ago and experienced in December 2014

Manuel Bleiker's avatar

Manuel Bleiker


Ranking: 8/10

A bit of a walk, but worth it! Amazing views.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Lilli Erni's avatar

Lilli Erni


Ranking: 9/10

Great views from the balcony of the fire watching station on the mountain top.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Robert Erni's avatar

Robert Erni


Ranking: 9/10

Excellent views! Worth the walk.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Patricia Erni's avatar

Patricia Erni


Ranking: 8/10

It took us a bit longer than one hour to get a very nice view (360). You could also go by a mountain bike.

Reviewed over 7 years ago and experienced in March 2014

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick