TAUPO – THE GREAT LAKE OF NEW ZEALAND’S NORTH ISLAND

Sunset over Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, with a wealth of attractions for sightseeing, activities and pure relaxation. Taupo lies at the centre of New Zealand’s North Island, within a volcanic caldera roughly the size of Singapore. Approximately 2000 years ago, a huge volcanic eruption created the setting for this magnificent scenery. As a result, today the lake is one of New Zealand’s most famous adventure playgrounds. For example, you can enjoy water sports, adventure activities, hiking, cycling and simply sightseeing around the lake, waterfalls, hot springs, parks. Or if snow sports are your thing, you need not venture very far for an unforgettable alpine adventure to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. After exploring Taupo, savour the famous Huka prawns or fresh local trout that make Taupo a culinary favourite. 

Things to do around Taupo: the Lake and other top attractions

Lake Taupo is great for water-skiing, kayaking, or booking a trip on one of the many sailing vessels that will take you around the lake. Huka Falls is another must-visit destination. The crystal blue waters from the lake drain into the falls at a thundering 220,000 litres of water per second. What is more, the roaring foam seems to be coloured in every hue of blue and turquoise. You can reach the Huka Falls by driving, hiking or biking. Or, if you prefer something more adventurous, get to Huka Falls on the exhilarating Jet Boat ride from Taupo. 

Blue water of the Huka Falls at Lake Taupo between green river banks
Sign saying Love Taupo in front of a blue lake at Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Hot springs, geysers, waterfalls and more to make you love Taupo

Thanks to geothermal activity, Taupo sports many springs, geysers, steaming craters and boiling mud pools. You can enjoy these thermal wonders around the lake, or at the excellent local spas and resorts. There are also Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay which you can only see from the water. A team of Maori carvers laboured for four years before finishing the project in 1980. The carvings are a very popular tourist attraction because of their unique location and this unusual story behind them. 

Activities on land around Lake Taupo: from hiking and cycling to skiing

You can also hike or bike through the pristine alpine forests that surround the lake. Another popular activity during the winter months is skiing down the rugged mountains. Thanks to the high altitude, snow blankets the surrounding mountains during winter. Consequently, the area becomes an ideal alpine destination for winter sports and sightseeing. The Tongariro Alpine crossing is another magnet for the adventurous in the greater Taupo region. It lies in Tongariro National Park, a dual UNESCO World Heritage site and New Zealand’s oldest national park. In fact, “Lord of the Rings” fans just might know this awe-inspiring scenery from the famous film trilogy. 

Snow covered mountains at Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Taupo, New Zealand
Azaleas and Rhododendrons in the gardens at Waipahihi Botanical Reserve Taupo, New Zealand

Waipahihi Botanical Reserve: a sancturary of forest trees, flowers and birdlife

On the outskirts of Taupo itself you will find the Waipahihi Botanical Reserve. This celebration of plant life is home to some 2,000 rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas intermingled along the forest trees. Maintaining the remarkable 85ha reserve falls mostly upon dedicated volunteers. Waipahihi Botanical Reserve hosts many native trees and plants as well as abundant birdlife. The local spring months of September and October are the best months for seeing the masses of blooming flowers.

Get hooked at the Taupo Trout Fishery

Taupo’s natural trout fishery is the largest in the world, and a must for angling enthusiasts. The fishery is home to abundant wild stock of rainbow and brown trout. Moreover, it boasts excellent lake and river fishing all year round. Hooking and cooking your own trout is a unique experience that you will treasure long after the trip is over, so be sure to get a fishing licence!

Hand holding a fishing rod with a lake and trees in the background
Passengers on a motorboat in the water beside a cliff at Huka Falls at Lake Taupo

Some of Taupo’s top attractions to savour:

  • Bathe in the thermal waters at DeBretts Hot Springs and the Otumuheke Steam Park, or try to find your own hot spot around the lake itself
  • Visit the Craters of the Moon geothermal park with its steaming vents and bubbling caverns
  • Walk or bike the Great Lake Walkway track, a ten kilometre paved walking track
  • Visit the Huka Prawn Park and sample some prawns for lunch!
  • For the more adventurous, helicopter flights and bungy jumping will get the blood pumping
  • And at the extreme end you could always climb the Tongariro Alpine crossing, go Tongariro River Grade Three Whitewater Rafting or take the Waikato Jet Boat Ride and Geothermal Safari.
People skiing on a snowy mountain

Explore the many thrills of Taupo and surroundings

Experience the thrills and chills of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Mount Ruapehu in the greater Taupo region with our return trip from the convenience of Auckland

Or, with so many incredible places in and around Taupo to discover, why not design your unique, custom tour? Our expert guides will lead you with insider knowledge to make the very most of your visit.