Te Aroha (meaning “the love”) was one of the earliest tourist towns in NZ. Paeroa, at the entrance to the Karangahake Gorge, is now more substantial. But Te Aroha has hot pools and sculptor Adrian Worsely who has several unusual but cool works around the town. The town also provides direct access to Mount Te Aroha, the high point of the Kaimai Range at 953 metres and is a popular stop for cyclists on the Hauraki Rail Trail.
If you want to hike up, it is about a 750 metre vertical climb from the domain, and it’s best to allow about 6 hours return. A shorter option is the 200 metre (steep vertical) climb to the Whakapipi viewpoint on the same track. Take plenty of water if you are going all the way on a hot day.
There are other ways up the mountain to the north and south of town through the historic gold trails in the Waiorongomai Valley. But you need to allow even more time to return.