Taupo in the heart of the North Island is home to New Zealand's largest lake.
It’s a place of extraordinary natural beauty and the ideal destination for those who enjoy getting out and about in the great outdoors. One Taupo’s biggest claims to fame is Lake Taupo which is housed in an ancient volcanic caldera born from one of the world’s most spectacular volcanic eruptions. However, there are plenty of things to do in Taupo which don’t involve getting out on the lake. The trout-filled rivers offer some of world’s best fly-fishing and there are ancient forests to explore, together with steaming geothermal valleys with natural hot springs, and superb national parks like Tongariro National Park which is a dual-listed UNESCO heritage site. Mountain bikers come to Taupo to ride The Great Lake Trails on the western shores of Lake Taupo which are considered some of the best mountain biking trails in the country. If you would prefer to hit the slopes, you’ll find New Zealand’s largest ski fields near Taupo on Mt Ruapehu, which also draw hikers in summer.
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Highlights of Taupo
Taupo geothermal wonders
Taupo is part of a large volcanic zone so it’s no surprise there’s an impressive array of geothermal activity in the region. Don’t be surprised if you see steam drifting across the landscape on chilly mornings or pushing its way out of vents in the earth. There are plenty of geothermal viewing areas in and around Taupo where you can stroll along walkways and see bubbling mud pools and steaming mineral lakes. Visiting a thermal spa for a soak in the hot spring water is another must-do.
Hike Tongariro National Park
Enjoy a scenic flight over Lake Taupo or venture further afield to Tongariro National Park, New Zealand's oldest National Park. Tongariro National Park is a dual World Heritage site, recognised for both its outstanding volcanic landscape and its great cultural significance. Here you’ll get to see not one but three live craters and also three incredible blue-green lakes. If you’re an experienced hiker, the Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand’s best (and most challenging) day walks.
White water rafting at Taupo
Grab your paddles and a few mates and jump in a raft with your guide for a rollicking white water rafting adventure down the Tongariro River. This scenic river flows into Lake Taupo and offers plenty of enjoyment for paddlers of all ages and abilities. When you’re not paddling and riding the rapids, keep an out for trout swimming near the raft. This active excursion is as enjoyable as it is scenic, so you’ll get to have lots of fun and soak up nature at the same time.
Get out on Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo is the largest largest freshwater lake in Australasia and the best way to experience it is to get out on its pristine waters. Join a scenic boat cruise to see native water birds and hidden coves, or book a Lake Taupo kayak tour and surround yourself with the beauty of the lake and the surrounding area. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go on a Lake Taupo on parasailing adventure for a bird’s eye view of Taupo and the sparkling waters of the lake.
Trout fishing in Taupo
Trout fishing in Lake Taupo and the surrounding rivers has been popular since the early 1900s, especially in the Tongariro River which is full of plump rainbow and brown trout. Any time is a good time to fish here, either in the rivers, along the shoreline or out on the lake itself. If you want to learn more about the region’s most famous fish, drop into the Tongariro National Trout Centre which is filled with attractions about all things trout and celebrates the region’s trout fishing history.
See mighty Huka Falls
Most people park at the carpark and snap a photo of Huka Falls from the viewing bridge but a jetboat trip offers a far more exciting look at this dramatic waterfall. Seeing these falls from the water is one of the best ways to appreciate the mighty 220,000 litre per second water flow. If you enjoy hiking, you can also take an easy one hour walk along the Huka Falls Trail which begins at a slow-flowing and peaceful part of the Waikato River and finishes with the roar of the falls filling your ears.
Taupo Tour Reviews
Trips on or before 31 December 2022
If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional.
Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
The closest airport to Taupo is Taupo Airport which is an 8 kilometre drive from town. Direct flights take 50 minutes from Auckland and 1 hour from Wellington. Driving to Taupo from Auckland takes 3.5 hours or it's a 4.5 hour drive from Wellington. There are also regular InterCity bus services which take slightly longer as they pick up and drop off passengers along the way.
Taupo has a local bus service and hire cars, taxis and tours are also available for getting around Taupo.
The weather at Taupo can be warm in summer so don't be surprised if you find yourself walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. If you're to keen to try water sports like rafting or kayaking, a summer visit is a good choice as the weather is warmer if you do happen to fall into Lake Taupo or one of the nearby rivers. It can get cold in winter with temperatures dropping to around two degrees Celcius. Autumn brings the colours of leaves changing from green to red and gold, and spring is perfect for strolling and sailing around the lake.
Clothes you can layer work best if you're travelling to Taupo as it can be very warm in the middle of the day. Add a jumper or jacket, wet weather gear, sunscreen, a hat and a beanie. Remember to pack a fleece if you're heading out on Lake Taupo as it can get chilly on the boat, even in summer. Comfortable shoes are also a must for exploring this scenic area.
Taupo is a laid back destination so people tend to dress casually. Smart casual is considered 'dressy' at the restaurants in town.
The is good WiFi coverage at Taupo but the signal can be weak when you're exploring some parts of the lake.
The is good mobile phone coverage at Taupo but the signal can be weak when you're exploring some parts of the lake.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. Some Lake Taupo tours such as kayak trips and parasailing adventures are easier than others for travellers with limited mobility. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
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