Craters of the Moon

Only a few minutes north of Taupo and easily accessible off State Highway One, Craters of the Moon ('karapiti') is an active geothermal field and a formidable volcanic example of the inner earth’s fiery inferno bursting forth, not to mention a popular Taupo visitor attraction.

The terrain is filled with exposed steam vents and is constantly shifting, collapsing and reforming, giving Craters of the Moon its iconic uninhabited, otherworldly appearance. This popular Taupo attraction contains bubbling craters, colourful soils and plants that have adapted to and thriving in this hot environment. Boardwalks and pathways lead spectators safely through the area, avoiding the fumes and hot temperatures around the steam vents in this well-visited spot.

Craters of the Moon began to form in 1950 as a result of utilising the underground thermal energy in the Wairakei Valley. This area used to contain light geothermal activity until the construction of Wairakei Geothermal Power Station, approximately 2000 metres north of the field. The power station lowered underground water levels and as a result the fumaroles and mud pools became more active.

There was less water to cool the magma and the ground cavity which was previously full of water is now full of high-pressure sulphurous steam, creating the force responsible for the shifting and changing landscape. Formed over the past sixty years Craters of the Moon is now a must-see Taupo attraction, with its desolate moonscape and clouds of swirling steam.

Open every day except Christmas, the easy stroll is suited to all ages and fitness levels. Allow around 45 minutes to complete the loop and an additional 15 minutes for the upper lookout. This section is steep in places but the view is well worth the effort and highly recommended. A small admission fee applies. Find out more at

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