The focus of this region is Lake Taupo – New Zealand’s largest lake (619 square kilometres) and the heart of the North Island. Lake Taupo was created by a volcanic eruption so big the sun went hazy in China (relax, that was a few thousand years ago). Almost everywhere you look there’s a volcano. Just a few minutes north of the Lake at Wairakei you’ll find geothermal fields, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers. The Lake Taupo district is an area of considerable beauty and diversity, offering a wide range of activities, adventures and scenic opportunities. Often described as the jewel in the crown of the North Island, Lake Taupo is set amidst clean, green countryside, spectacular mountain scenery, beautiful native bush and some of the largest pine forests in the Southern Hemisphere. The area’s lakes and rivers are very popular for a variety of both winter and summer water sports, including sailing, water skiing and jet boating, with its neighbouring countryside providing the perfect environment for a number of land sports, including skiing, hiking and mountain biking. The region has long been known as the trout fishing capital of the world, offering some of the best angling in New Zealand for rainbow and brown trout, in both the lake and its two major rivers – the Tongariro and the Waikato.
A few minutes south of the Lake is Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s first national park and a World Heritage area. It was created in 1887 when its three magnificent volcanoes, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, were gifted to the people of New Zealand by the Ngati Tuwharetoa people. The Tongariro National Park is also home to the famous Tongariro Crossing – a scenic trek through some of the most spectacular volcanic scenery in the country. The Tongariro Crossing is often described as the best one day walk in New Zealand. On a quieter note, Lake Taupo also offers every opportunity for you to unwind and relax, be it with a round of golf on one of the many top quality golf courses, or a cruise around some of the more secluded bays on the lake. A leisurely stroll can often lead to a natural hot spring on the side of the river, while the whole region offers plenty of sheltered picnic spots, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Come winter, the region comes to life as a ski destination, ideally located just a short drive from Taupo is Mt Ruapehu and the Whakapapa ski field – the largest ski area in New Zealand – offering a variety of runs perfect for both skiing and snowboarding at a beginners to advanced level.
If you need a break from the ski field, 65 different activities between Taupo and MT Ruapehu means you can always find something else to do. A not to be missed experience whilst in Taupo is the “White Island Experience” – which involves a stunning helicopter ride over magnificent scenery to the very active White Island followed by a guided tour (conditions permitting), that takes you past steaming fumaroles and bubbling activity to the edge of the crater lake. Ask us for more information in this unique experience! Thermal activity elsewhere in the region includes natural hot pools and springs, Craters of the Moon – a 30 minute walk around steaming craters and boiling mud pools, and Orakei Korako – a hidden valley of silica terraces and leaping geysers. And no visit to the Lake Taupo region is complete without visiting the mighty Huka Falls. Watch captivated, as nearly 300,000 litres of water per second hurtles through the narrow chasm that makes this waterfall the most visited attraction in New Zealand. Whether you are after a relaxing break or an adrenaline pumping destination, Lake Taupo offers an experience for everyone!
Still looking for activity ideas around Taupo? Take a look at our article on Things to do in and around Taupo.
Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in Australasia with water so clean a few zillion trout call it home. The Lake is 616 square kilometres-that’s about the same size as Singapore! Water activities take place in the lake all year round, including water-skiing, parasailing, jet skiing, fishing, cruising, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and landing in it by float-plane! There are 47 rivers and streams feeding into Lake Taupo, and just one outlet – the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river. Taupo township is located right on the edge of the lake.
The Huka Falls is New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction. The thundering Huka Falls provides a fantastic photo opportunity as more than 220,000 litres of water tumbles over the cliff face per second! Located just a short drive north of Taupo, there is an Information Centre located by the falls and several viewing platforms providing excellent vantage points.
The Aratiatia Rapids on the Waikato River (just 10 minutes drive from Taupo township on State Highway 5 toward Rotorua) are flooded daily at 10:00 am, 12:00 noon, 2:00 pm (winter) and also 4:00 PM in summer. This is caused by the opening of the spillway at the nearby Aratiatia Dam. The spillway is opened to recreate and demonstrate how the river used to flow prior to the dam being built. 90,000 litres is released from the spillway per second.
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- Catch rainbow and brown trout on Lake Taupo or go fly-fishing with one of our specialist guides on one of the many local rivers
- Take a cruise on Lake Taupo
- Enjoy an exhilarating Jet boat ride to the thundering face of the Huka Falls
- Visit Huka Falls and watch as over 200,000 litres of water falls over the cliff face every second
- Walk the Craters of the Moon, an active thermal area with mud pools, craters and steam
- Enjoy a relaxing hot soak in the thermal baths or hot springs that surround the lake
- Visit Wairakei Geothermal Visitor Centre
- Take a tour of a geothermal Prawn Park hatchery and then indulge in a fresh prawn meal
- Explore Orakei Korako Geyserland, a valley of geysers, hot springs, mud volcanoes and silica terraces
- For a little adventure… try parasailing, skydiving, bungy jumping or white water rafting
- Enjoy a scenic helicopter flight to White Island
- Visit the impressive underground wine cellar at “Scenic Cellars” for an enormous selection of New Zealand and international wines
- Watch the rapids at Aratiatia water is released from the dam at 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 4:00pm daily
- Wander through the beautiful Pureora Forest Park along the Waihaha River