According to Māori legend, Lake Taupo is the heart of New Zealand’s North Island and is the largest lake in Australasia. Created by an ancient volcanic eruption, revealed today by the Craters of the Moon, a geothermal active hotspot, its clear blue waters are reflective of its paradoxical nature as both a destination for adventure and relaxation alike. Not only does this majestic lake boast spiritually arresting views of the mountains, it offers a range of activities and scenic highlights to thrill, engage and inspire any audience.
Taupo is a hugely popular destination for people road tripping around the North Island. It is a great stopping off point for those heading south from Auckland or heading up north from Wellington and is a great place to call in on route to Napier, the Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty and out west to New Plymouth. It’s a place with plenty going on so we decided to put together a list of our top five favourite things to do so here goes.
1. The Huka Falls
The Huka Falls are some of the most impressive we have seen anywhere in the world and that is saying something. They may not be the highest or the widest, but crikey they power out a lot of water! Imagine a river 100m wide being squeezed into a narrow passage which is only 15m wide and you can imagine the power that is generated as the waters tumbles over the volcanic ledge. Standing at the mouth of the falls is pretty awe-inspiring and mesmerising. The brave souls can also take a jet boat up the river to get up close and personal right where the water erupts over the ledge – impressive stuff!
As you know, here at GO we’re all about the adventure and the adrenaline but every now and then, we like to take a step back and relax and if taking it easy is your pleasure, enthusiastic anglers will relish the challenge of catching the large silver trout the Tongariro River is world famous for. The region is well serviced with restaurants, tackle shops and fishing guides with boat launching ramps around the Lake, boasting something for everyone. It is also worth taking a trip to Boat Harbour to hire a boat, spending a day or afternoon exploring the bays at your own free will. We are not always successful at catching the fish but we always come back from a day on the river feeling completely relaxed so give it a go.
For adrenaline junkies or those seeking an alternative thrill, Lake Taupo offers a range of exciting activities skydiving, mountain biking, bungy jumping and jet boating to name a few, where visitors will be spoilt for choice. Famous for its bungy jumping and skydiving, Taupo is home to New Zealand’s largest drop zone, 15,000 feet above the Lake, giving mind-blowing views of the region. There are three companies in Taupo, and with prices ranging from NZ$249 to NZ$598, it’s one of the cheapest and most spectacular places to try a skydive in New Zealand.
4. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The World Heritage site, Tongariro National Park is a key visitor attraction offering a range of activities with scenery ranging from aromatic herb fields to unspoiled rain forests, serene lakes to bubbling hot springs, a unique photographic possibility round every turn. The Alpine Crossing in Tongariro is rated as the best one day trek in New Zealand and one of the top ten day treks in the world. The 19.4km journey takes visitors across unique land forms and challenging terrain to give an unforgettable experience. Mt. Ruapehu is also situated within the park and is the only commercial ski field in the North Island, with its permanent cover of snow, the Whakapapa Village being New Zealand’s highest settlement.
Wow! A list of top 5 things to do in a place that includes fishing and golf! That’s what make Taupo so special – there’s something for the adrenaline seekers and the more laid back. Taupo is home to two of New Zealand’s finest golf courses making it a popular destinations with Kiwis and international visitors. Regularly topping the charts when it comes to the best courses in New Zealand are Kinloch and Wairakei and these should be on any list of ‘must play’ courses in New Zealand. If you’re more ‘hacker’ than serious golfer, one of our favourite things to try when we’re in Taupo is to land a hole in one at the famous floating green that sits about 100 yards out in the middle of Lake Taupo – great fun to try and even more fun watching people give it a go!
Getting there and away
Taupo is one of the most accessible destinations in the North Island making it a hugely popular destination. Many of our road trip itineraries pass through Taupo so make sure you check out our Trip Planner tool if you are planning either a weekend away or a longer trip around New Zealand. One of our favourite trips is a three day long weekend from Auckland and you can check this itinerary out below: