Near the northeast coast of the North Island is Mount Tarawera, the volcano responsible for a massive eruption that destroyed the famed, naturally occurring Pink and White Terraces and buried three Maori villages, including Te Wairoa, in 1866. The volcano is currently dormant, but visitors can book several different guided tours of the mountain, ranging from helicopter, 4-wheel drive vehicles and mountain bikes.
The area around Mt. Tarawera is breathtaking in its beauty and captivating in its thermal characteristics. Nearby are both the Geothermal Wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu and the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley near Te Puia, the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. At Tarawera's foot is Lake Rotomahana, which offers numerous recreational activities including fishing, water skiing and boating.
In addition to Lake Rotomahana, Mt. Tarawera's eruption formed many others, as the rift and domes formed from the explosion dramatically altered the surrounding landscape. In fact, the blast was so massive that its ash could be seen as far away as Christchurch, nearly 500 miles to the south. The resulting topographic challenges have created some of the most exhilarating bike trails in the world.
Since January 2010, independent hiking on Tarawera (and even being on the roads that approach it) is forbidden, due to health and safety issues, vandalism, and traffic. If you want to visit it you must book a tour.