New Zealand Walks; Tramp­ing and glamp­ing Tarawera style

Re­ally? Egyp­tian cot­ton sheets in a queen-sized bed in a camp at the end of a tramp­ing track? With geo­ther­mal lake-edge bathing thrown in? Not for­get­ting gas cooker, so­lar light­ing , flush toi­let and hot shower?

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Kathy Om­bler

It’s true. For those want­ing to walk Ro­torua’s Tarawera Trail, and who might have moved on from tot­ing the tent, food and cooker on their back, there’s now a stun­ning ‘glamp­ing’ op­tion, pitched dis­creetly on a lakeshore ter­race at the trail’s far end.

Walk­ing NZ has pre­vi­ously fea­tured the Tarawera Trail. This is the 15km for­est walk that starts near Te Wairoa, The Buried Vil­lage, and me­an­ders part way around Lake Tarawera to Te Rata Bay – oth­er­wise known as Hot Water Beach for the geo­ther­mal springs that heat the lake here.

The trail is gen­tly un­du­lat­ing. Views un­fold through the trees across Lake Tarawera to the brood­ing Mt Tarawera. There’s also a glimpse of Ro­to­pounamu, the lake fa­mous for its Pink and White Ter­races un­til they were buried in the cat­a­clysmic Tarawera

erup­tion, back in 1886. The Trail is man­aged by the Tarawera Trail Trust, a unique part­ner­ship with DOC and lo­cal landown­ers. It opened in 2013 as the first stage of a pro­posed walk to be de­vel­oped right around Lake Tarawera, one po­ten­tially des­tined to be­come New Zealand’s next Great Walk.

For now, the trail ends at Te Rata Bay. You can ei­ther walk back (or run, and many do), re­turn by water taxi or, you can “glamp”. Even bet­ter Dave, the water taxi driver, will de­liver sup­plies right to your glamp­ing tent door.

Te Rata Glamp­ing might be new but the tra­di­tion of host­ing visi­tors here is not.

In the late 1800s, New Zealand’s first ever tourism ven­ture be­gan when en­tre­pre­neur­ial Guide Sophia led tours to the Pink and White Ter­races.

Guests trav­elled from Te Wairoa Vil­lage, boated across Lake Tarawera, walked over an isth­mus to Ro­to­pounamu, then boated to the Ter­races.

All came to a tragic end on June 10, 1886, when Tarawera erupted. A 17km rift was blasted out of the moun­tain and the Ter­races lost in the depths of Ro­to­pounamu. Te Wairoa and other lo­cal vil­lages were buried in ash and mud, the sur­vivors moved away.

That early spirit of hos­pi­tal­ity is not only now rekin­dled, it runs in the same

whanau. Te Rata Glamp­ing has been es­tab­lished by Karen Walm­s­ley, a di­rect de­scen­dant of Guide Sophia, and her hus­band Dave. Their com­pany, To­tally Tarawera, also runs the Tarawera Water Taxi, plus the cou­ple guide eco and cul­tural tours in the re­gion.

There is also a DOC camp­ing area at Hot Water Beach, pop­u­lar in sum­mer. Karen says she’s camped here, many times. ‘I’ve ac­tu­ally been camp­ing all my life but now I’m get­ting older. I need some com­forts. So when we were planning our glamp­ing site I thought about what I would like to have in a camp­site now. And I think we’ve pretty much nailed it.”

In fact, Te Rata is the first glamp­ing site to have a con­ces­sion on DOC land, and meets strict en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards. There is a sleep­ing tent, with a dou­ble bed (with fluffy du­vet and those Egyp­tian cot­ton sheets) set on a wooden plat­form, with ve­randa.

The bath­room tent comes with hot water shower, twin basins and a com­post­ing toi­let. All waste is car­ried out.

The ‘wharekai’ (sleep­ing/din­ing tent) is fully equipped with gas cooker, sink with gas hot water, a gas fridge and bar­be­cue, all the uten­sils you’d need, plus table and chairs and re­clin­ing deck chairs, per­fectly lo­cated to watch the sun set on the moun­tain.

Din­ner and break­fast bas­kets are sup­plied on re­quest. Tra­di­tional steam cook­ing in the geo­ther­mal water is also an op­tion, no kid­ding. Ask Dave for his recipe book. As an ex­am­ple you can cook that freshly caught trout in the ground in 40 min­utes. While you are wait­ing just re­lax and en­joy the lake edge hot water bathing.

Guide Sophia would be proud.

Above: Look­ing across to the Moun­tains of Tarawera.. Left: It might be un­der can­vas but the kitchen and din­ing room at Te Rata Glamp­ing has all the mod cons.

Above left: A com­fort­able bed in a tent. Above right: Dave and Karen Walm­s­ley, of To­tally Tarawera, at Te Rata Bay, Lake Tarawera. They run Te Rata Glamp­ing, the Lake Tarawera Water Taxi, Kanuka Glamp­ing (at Oneroa) and guided eco and cul­tural tours. Karen de­scends from Guide Sophia, of Pink and White ter­races guid­ing fame. Be­low left: Kanuka Glamp­ing adopts a Maori theme.

Tramp­ing and glamp­ing, Tarawera style Above left: Wel­come to Te Rata Glamp­ing. Above right: Glamp­ing Te Rata style means a sturdy tent, wooden floor, qual­ity bed­ding and a look­out across the lake. Wake up to the sunrise over Mt Tarawera. Mid­dle left: The lux­ury feel of the bath­room at Kanuka. Be­low left: Hot water for bathing and, if you have the time, for cook­ing, is provided cour­tesy of Mother Na­ture at the geo­ther­mal water re­gion of Te Rata Bay.

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