Did I give the impression that the dynamic Crater Lake is the only lake on Mt Ruapehu?
Nestled on the south west flank of the mountain is Lake Surprise. The easiest access is off the Ohakune Mountain Road’s 15 km mark. This is above the tree line. From here you drop steeply down a rock staircase and cross a waterfall at the bottom. This is stunning with silica deposits on the rock, exactly like the submerged Pink and White Terraces of Tarawera. On a fine day you can see Mt Taranaki in the distance. Traversing the Mangaturuturu Valley you cross the Mangaturuturu River where gorgeous stands of beech forest grow and then gently amble up to Lake Surprise. A board walk is situated alongside the lake thus avoiding the need to get those boots wet in the bog.
This walk a great way to spend a summer’s day on Mt Ruapehu. Ohakune Mountain Road to Lake Surprise without stops is only an hour and a half.
I recommend staying at Rocky Mountain Chalets (especially Chalet 27 which has king, queen and twin rooms).