Taupo’s intrigue begins with the fact that it’s a centre of volcanic and geothermal activity. After a day spent exploring the rugged mountains or kayaking the pristine lake, you can bathe in the hot springs dotted throughout the town. Taupo offers plenty of award-winning attractions — it’s known for its skydiving and Maori Rock Carvings — but the real gem is the breathtaking natural landscape. Taupo and the lake are nature’s ultimate playground.
Places to Visit in Taupo
- Tongariro National Park
- Kaimanawa Forest Park
- Huka Falls
- Waipahihi Botanical Reserve
- Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary
- Wairakei Terraces
- Pure Ora Garden
Unique Things to See and Do in Taupo
- Do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, “a life-changing experience”
- Fish for trout unlike any other on the Tongariro River
- Admire the Maori Rock Carvings at Mine Bay
- Ski at Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu, NZ’s largest ski area
- Mountain bike the grade-three Great Lake Trail
- Search for Blue Duck, a threatened species endemic to NZ
- Bungy jump over the Waikato River
What Makes Taupo Special?
Pronounced ‘toe-pour’, Taupo has a fascinating geothermal landscape, not to mention a rich cultural heritage that dates back to when the Maori arrived (by canoe!) some seven hundred years ago.
The lake came to being after a series of nine volcanic eruptions culminated in one massive one, the most violent eruption known to man. The crater left behind filled with water, creating Lake Taupo, today’s haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Should you swim in the lake, you’ll notice pockets of warmer water; these indicate thermal activity of the still-active volcano.
Taupo is famed for its purity and positive people, but one of the area’s real winner is trout fishing. Lake Taupo is one of the few remaining wild trout fisheries worldwide, and its award-winning rainbow and brown varieties are held legendary for their size and condition. The Taupo region is also home to dramatic ancient beech forests that abound with spectacular birdlife, as well as mountains that are still considered sacred.
Getting Around Taupo
To enjoy the most of what Taupo and the surrounding area have to offer, we suggest renting a car. Taupo is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from Auckland, and 4.5 hours from Wellington. That said, scooters are also a fun option, and they’re readily available to rent from several shops in town. Hostels and bike shops also rent out mountain bikes, which, if at all possible, is a must; mountain biking the Taupo region is one-of-a-kind.
Other options include using the extensive bus system, the Taupo Connector, and taking taxis. Tip: share the ride with fellow travellers; the fare will be much cheaper that way, and, most importantly, you’ll get to know somebody new. The best news of all: thanks to Taupo’s compact size, it’s easy to take on by foot – and that’s always free!
Did you know…?
Roughly the size of Singapore, Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in the Australasia region.
Did you ALSO know…?
30,000 people per year flock to Taupo to skydive, making it the skydiving capital of the world.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Taupo
Taupo is beautiful year-round, but if you’re one who travels based on weather, here is some climate information to bear in mind when booking your flights: it’s warmest September through April; hottest in December, January, and February; springtime is from September through November; fall is from March through May, and winter runs from June through August.
Also bear in mind the summer school holiday for Kiwis goes from the middle of December until the end of January, so crowds will be thicker during those months. If you’re going to ski, you’ll be mind-boggled to learn the best time to hit the slopes is between early July and late September.
Ready to plan your visit to Taupo? Check out these popular guides and trips.