Travel to Lake Taupo area is an experience in contrasts. The placid tourist town of Taupo sitting astride its’ namesake lake, belies its’ savage history. The result of the world’s largest volcanic eruption in the past 5,000 years, the lake more resembles an inland sea with the snowcapped Tongariro Mountains serving as a backdrop.
The region is noted for its world famous trout fishing in NZ’s biggest lake and adjoining rivers, swimming in pristine waters or relaxing in geo-thermal pools. It is snow skiing on a volcano or walking in native bush lands. It is visiting the mighty Huka Falls or jet boating on a raging river. Most of all, it’s a great locale for the whole family.
Taupo has been dubbed the “freefall capital of New Zealand” as it is the skydiving (tandem and solo) center of the country. And nowhere in the city is more than a few minutes walk from either Lake Taupo or the Waikato River.
Located just 50 miles south of Rotorua and smack in the middle of the North Island, tourism attracts over a million visitors per year to the Lake Taupo area. The busiest time is the high summer season around Christmas and New Year. Our recommended properties are the luxury Huka Lodge and the upmarket Millennium Hotel and Resort Taupo Manuels. Situated above Acacia Bay on the northwest shore of Lake Taupo is another of NZ’s premier lodges – the Lake Taupo Lodge.
The Lake Taupo Museum and Art Gallery is definitely worth a visit particularly for the famous Reid carvings and its adjacent Ora Garden. You can bathe in geothermal waters at a number of spots including The DeBreet Spa , the AC Baths & Taupo Events Centre and the Spa Thermal Park and Hot Stream.
You can get a picture of Taupo from many different perspectives. On land, there are biking and walking trails aplenty. But perhaps the most impressive is the Tongariro Crossing. Dubbed the “greatest one day walk anywhere”, this 10.5 mile trek passes volcanoes, crater lakes, desert areas, forest waterfalls and hot springs.
On the water, you can take a leisurely lake cruise to view the Maori carvings at Mine Bay. Or sail the ketch Barbary, the Cruise Cat or the steamer Ernest Kemp. There is also extensive kayaking, whitewater rafting and opportunities.
As noted, the area is New Zealand’s mecca for flyfishing. Whether a novice or angling veteran, you can get hooked in Taupo. Chris Jolly Fishing is one of the premier fishing guides around. Another exciting water spot is the roaring Huka Falls, the point where the mighty Waikato Rivers barrels over 30 ft. drop before continuing its run to the ocean. If you’re not into kayaking over the falls or taking a close up jetboat tour, there are many vantage points to grab a photo of this awesome natural wonder.
If time is of the essence, you can get a bird’s eye view of the area on a flightseeing tour or heli ride or an abbreviated peak while jumping at Taupo Bungy.
Picture an other-worldly movie set of steaming and hissing vents and vapor enshrouded mountains and you have Craters of the Moon Park. A short drive from Taupo, it takes about an hour to walk through this active geothermal area. And if you still haven’t had your fill of hissing and steaming grounds, the Orakei Korako thermal valley will enthrall you.