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Why Taupō should be on your New Zealand bucket list
Taupō is a great base for campervan travel as it is conveniently connected to all the key destinations in New Zealand. But, it’s the variety of activities that draw holidaymakers to the region every year. Home to the largest lake in Australasia, many activities are based on and around the lake, whether you’re setting off on a scenic lake cruise, or getting the adrenaline rush on a jet boat ride, you’re going to love spending time in this buzzing destination. There are so many great things to do in and around Taupō, making it an incredible destination for campervan travel in New Zealand.
Top 10 things to do in Taupō
1. Soak in the Hot Springs
A trip to Taupō wouldn’t be complete without soaking in the world-famous natural hot springs at Otumuheke Stream. Naturally heated geothermal waters from the stream flow into the Waikato River at Spa Thermal Park, providing a luxurious spot to unwind in healing mineral waters.
Located in Spa Thermal Park about a 25-minute walk out of the Taupō town centre, pass Taupō Bungy & Cliffhanger before turning left at County Avenue. Once you reach the car park, follow the path towards the river until you arrive at a bridge, the pools are located underneath and around the bridge. Soak under a waterfall or in the natural rock pools against a backdrop of spectacular views and the crystal clear waters of the longest river in New Zealand, the mighty Waikato.
2. Marvel at the Huka Falls
As the most visited natural tourist attraction in New Zealand, be sure to include Huka Falls in your New Zealand road trip itinerary. With up to 220,000 litres of water gushing through the gorge every second, this is a powerful force of nature to witness.
Located in Wairakei Park, just a five-minute drive north of Lake Taupō, choose to take the short drive or a 30-minute scenic walk along the riverside. The trail walk takes around an hour and includes various viewing platforms from where you can appreciate this incredible natural wonder.
If you’re after some thrill-seeking, book in a Huka Falls jet boat river and enjoy a half-hour trip of 80km/h speeds, 360-degree spins, and heart-pumping adrenaline.
3. Catch a fish at Tongariro National Trout Centre
The Tongariro National Trout Centre is the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy. Experience the world of freshwater trout and learn about their habitat and how they live in freshwater. Take the kids to have their go at catching fish from the kid's pond for an educational experience.
Set against a backdrop of native trees and rivers, as well as homing native birds, the trout farm is a peaceful escape and comes to life with tourists and locals enjoying the attractions. Located on State Highway 1, the Trout Centre is a 50-minute drive out of the Taupō town centre.
4. Try White Water Rafting on the Tongariro River
If you’re looking for a thrill-seekers paradise in Taupo, stop in for some White Water Rafting on the Tongariro River. The natural beauty has been graced with some incredible rapids, so if you’re brave enough jump into a raft and get your adrenaline pumping.
The Tongariro River is world-famous for its pristine water and incredible scenery. Just a few minutes drive out of Tūrangi, add this experience to your itinerary, and enjoy a spectacular blend of fun, excitement, culture, and education as you roll down the river and over boulders in this adventure playground.
5. Discover the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings
The giant Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Rock Carvings on Lake Taupō have been titled one of the most extraordinary contemporary artworks in New Zealand. Accessible only by boat, jump on a scenic cruise, kayak, or boat from the Taupō Boat Harbour to witness this monument in all its glory.
Created in the 1970s by artist Matahi Brightwell, the carvings tower 14 metres above the water of Lake Taupō. As one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions, be sure not to witness this incredible cultural site. If you’re keen to get active, we recommend jumping in a kayak and paddling out to see them.
6. Take a scenic cruise on Lake Taupō
Witness Lake Taupō from a different perspective with a scenic lake cruise. With water being the main element of this area, the best way to truly experience Taupō is by getting right onto the lake.
The weather in Taupō changes throughout the days and seasons, offering many different cruising experiences. On sunny days the lake will be as smooth as glass with pristine waters, and when it’s overcast, a mist may lay over the lake with dark green colours. At any time of year, a scenic boat cruise on Lake Taupō will provide you with plenty to see. From bush-clad coves, and native birds to Māori rock carvings, head off on a boat to cruise the beautiful waters of the lake.
7. Cycle the Great Lake Trail
If you’re looking to explore the shores of Lake Taupō, pack your bikes and cycle the Great Lake Trail. Winding around the northwestern corner of the lake, this intermediate trail takes you through lush forests, wetlands, waterfalls, beaches, a volcanic gorge, and incredible ever-changing views.
The Great Lakes trail is split into four sections. If you’re looking to experience the full trail, break it down into a three-day adventure. If you’re after half to a full-day ride, tackle it by doing just one section and selecting the right section for you depending on your fitness and ability. Each section is easily accessible from the picturesque lakeside settlement of Kinloch, just a short drive out of Taupō.
8. Take a leap of faith and Bungy Jump
Enjoy the thrill of the Taupō Bungy swing, an exhilarating experience that will have you soaring through the air over the Waikato River at speeds of up to 70km per hour. Experience an adventure in the heart of New Zealand's geothermal region and get your adrenaline pumping. Located on 202 Spa Road in Taupō, take a short walk from the town centre to get here.
9. Explore the Craters of the Moon Geothermal Walk
Taupō is the centre of New Zealand’s geothermal region, discover the Craters of the Moon Geothermal Walk and be transported to a uniquely mystical lunar landscape in a cratered valley. Known for its otherworldly atmosphere, the Craters of the Moon thermal area popped up in the 1950s. As hot water was drawn out from within the field, the water level in the reservoir dropped and the leftover water boiled, producing steam.
Explore this spectacular area along well-formed pathways and raised viewing platforms as you follow the 45-minute walking tracks. View bubbling craters, steam vents, and colourful soils as well as various flora and fauna. Situated 10 minutes out of the Taupō town centre, take the short drive down Wairakei Drive past Huka Falls until you reach the Karapiti road turn off.
10. Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The spectacular Tongariro National Park is one of New Zealand’s World Heritage Sites where you can complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Classified as one of New Zealand’s best day hikes, be sure to get this one ticked off your list. The Tongariro Crossing is a cultural and spiritual landmark for New Zealand and is home to three active volcanic mountains - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu, as well as iconic landscapes.
The walk is 19.4km and will take you on challenging terrain through unique landforms. Thousands of people walk the crossing every year and practising long walks with a backpack on in preparation for your hike is recommended. Throughout the walk you will be presented with a variety of surfaces and terrain, so make sure you have dressed appropriately in supportive shoes.
The weather on the alpine crossing can be unpredictable. To make sure you are prepared for whatever mother nature throws your way, give yourself multiple days as options to do the walk, to avoid missing out, and always check the forecast and follow local advice before heading off.
Book your maui Motorhome today
Ready for an adventure in the heart of Aotearoa’s geothermal region? Book your maui motorhome today and get out on the open road to explore the wonderful action-packed region of Taupō. From geothermal wonderlands to scenic cruises and adrenaline-rushing adventures, see it all and more when you travel by motorhome. Check out our latest deals and specials here.