Wairakei geothermal field is part of the Wairakei-Tauhara System. Wairakei Geothermal Field has been damaged by power development and no geysers remain. Hot springs and other natural features are still present. Contact Energy Ltd operates two geothermal power stations on the Wairakei field producing 230 MW of electricity and is building a third, the Te Mihi plant, which will result in a 114 MW net gain. Another developer holds consents for a fourth power station but currently this project is on hold. Contact also supplies geothermal steam to several operators for direct heat use. These include Wairakei Terraces, The Prawn Park, Geotherm Exports’ glasshouses, and Wairakei Resort Hotel.
Natural geyser activity has been irreparably damaged. However, hot springs and pools, fumeroles, steaming ground, mud pools, craters, hot seepages, a rare mud geyser and sinter terraces are still present.
The thermal fern Christella sp. 'thermal' is present. Intact vegetation zones relate to the soil temperatures.
The Craters of the Moon geothermal area is part of the Wairakei geothermal field.
Wairakei is classified for development by Waikato Regional Council.
The Wairakei system has been developed for power generation and most features are irreparably damaged.
The chloride water that once fed the geysers and other chloride features including several hot streams has been diverted to the power station, causing those features to run dry. Decreased pressure in the geothermal ground water is causing more steam production, increasing the area of hot ground and the activity of steam-fed features.
Activity at the Craters of the Moon has greatly increased since the Wairakei Power Station started operating in the 1950s.
Changes in land use have also affected other natural features at Wairakei:
- Introduced weeds have colonised geothermal areas.
- Geothermal streams have been diverted.
- Rubbish has been dumped into the Alum Lake and other geothermal features. Areas of steaming ground have been used for dumps, including asbestos dumps.
- Other areas of hot ground have been scraped and contoured.
- Subsidence is threatening parts of Taupo town.
- Some areas have experienced spread of hot ground and increased frequency of hydrothermal eruptions.
- The Waiora Lakes, a taonga of Ngati Rauhoto, have dried up.