Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain Crater Lake

Also known as Maungakakaramea

As you drive south from Rotorua, Rainbow Mountain is the clearly visible peak that guards the intersection of SH5 and SH38. The walk to the summit passes by two impressive crater lakes, before finally emerging on to a 360 degree view summit.

Elevation 755 m (2,477 ft)
Location/List North Island, New Zealand
Region Bay of Plenty/East Coast
Location Coordinates 38° 19′ 10″ S, 176° 23′ 18″ E
Nearest Town/s Rotorua, Taupo
Geology Volcano
Translation ‘mountain of coloured earth’
Recommended Route
Duration Help.gif 3 hours (return)
Distance 4.6 km (2.9 mi)
Start/End Points SH5 Rainbow Mountain scenic reserve carpark
Difficulty Help.gif Easy
Track conditions Help.gif 4WD Road, Track
Season Help.gif All year
Sights Views, Bush, Lakes, Communications equipment(!) , views of Mt Tarawera, Rotorua lakes, Mt Tauhara, and Lake Taupo , and geothermal activity
Hazards Volcanic hazards , Geothermal Hazards

Getting There

By Car

From State Highway 5, between Rotorua and Taupo, turn into the Rainbow Mountain scenic reserves carpark (on the left if you’re coming from Rotorua). The carpark is just south of the intersection of SH5 and SH38 (SH38 goes to Murapara).

Public Transport

Rotorua is something of a tourist mecca, and the beautiful geothermal ‘wonderland’ of Wai-O-Tapu is a short distance to the south of Rainbow Mountain. This means that you should be able to find a transport shuttle service who will drop you at Rainbow Mountain.

Google Earth Map

NZ Topographic Map

Our Recommended Route

Ten minutes after leaving the carpark, head left at the fork in the path to the lookout over the geothermal pool below (keep an eye out for the unique geothermal vegetation here). Return to the junction and continue on the defined track for about another hour.

Eventually you will pop out on to a 4WD road. Simply head up this road for a further 5 minutes, and you will have bagged another peak! Don’t forget to pose by the trig for a photo. After admiring the 360 degree views of the Rotorua lakes region, return to the carpark the way you came. Allow 3 hours for the entire walk (1.5 hrs up, 30 mins for lunch, 1 hr down).

Height Profile

Rainbow Mountain-2d.jpg