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Taupo Highlights: Best Things to See and Do

Highlights of the Taupo Region, North Island, New Zealand


Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake and one of the favorite tourist destinations in the North Island. With the Tongariro National Park and geothermal areas (including Rotorua) close by, it's a great place to base yourself for part of your North Island tour.

Here are some of the highlights of the area.

Also see:

Taupo Lake and Townships

Lake Taupo with snow capped Mt Tonagriro and Mt Ngauruhoe
Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in Australasia and it's perimeter (193 kilometers/120 miles) is marked by a number of small towns. The largest of these is Taupo itself, on the northern shoreline. It's the major hub for activity in the region.

On a drive around the lake, other towns of interest include Turangi, Acacia Bay and Kinloch. At each you will find a variety of things to do, including walking, fishing and boating.

Taupo Natural Sights and Attractions

Huka Falls, Taupo
Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

Craters of the Moon: The Taupo region is amongst the most geothermally active in New Zealand. This attraction near Taupo allows you to see at first hand the boiling mud pools and boiling water springs.

Huka Falls: This is an impressive area just to the north of Taupo town. It is where water from the lake surges through a narrow gap on its way down the Waikato River.

Taupo Outdoor Sports and Activities

Trout Fishing, Tongariro River, Lake Taupo
Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

Cycling and Mountain Biking: Taupo is the cycling capital of New Zealand and the host town for many national and international cycle races. Hire a bike and ride one of the many trails, or even do the full circuit around Lake Taupo. Some of the best mountain bike trails are at the southern end of the Lake, near the Tongariro National Park.

Fishing: Lake Taupo is world famous for its trout fishing, both in the lake itself and in the many rivers and streams surrounding it. The best spots include the Tauranga-Taupo River and the Tongariro River near Turangi.

Jet Boating: Lake Taupo flows into the Waikato River and it's a great place to experience the thrills of a jetboat ride.

Skiing and Snow Sports: Taupo is a great base for the ski fields of Whakapapa and Turoa, both less than an hour and a half away.

Skydiving: A view of the lake and the mountains while jumping out of a plane is something you will never forget. If you want to try a parachute jump, Taupo is the place.

Walking and Hiking: Tongariro National Park has many great hikes, including the famous Tongariro Crossing Walk. However there are also many great walks throughout the Taupo region.

White Water Rafting: The Tongariro River has some of the best rafting in the North Island, taking you through some of the island's most remote country. It's a great way to see places that are inaccessible by any other means.

For the ultimate outdoor fun, combine a jet boat ride, scenic cruise, helicopter flight and white water rafting trip.

Taupo History and Culture

Maori warriors at a tribal gathering in New Zealand giving the traditional Haka greeting.
Image Courtesy of Getty Images/Tim Graham

Taupo is an area of rich cultural significance for the local Maori people. As with nearby Rotorua, the area's history has been shaped largely by volcanic activity.

Maori Rock Carvings, Lake Taupo: These magnificent rock carvings are only accessible by boat and are at Mine Bay on the western shore of the lake. They are more than ten meters high and were carved in the 1970s by Maori carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell.

Wairakei Terraces: This unique area just north of Taupo offers the chance to experience local Maori culture with a replica of a Maori village and displays of Maori art and performance. You can even try a hangi, a traditional Maori feast cooked in an underground oven.

Taupo Dining and Restaurants

Taupo has some of the best selections of places to eat outside Auckland and Wellington in the North Island. In particular, check out the following:

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