The 15 Greatest Issues To Do in Taupo – By no means Ending Footsteps


Taupo is one in all my favorite spots on New Zealand’s North Island.

I’m lucky to have visited this bustling lakeside city 3 times now and every time, I’ve come away promising to return. There’s simply one thing about New Zealand’s lakes that feels so therapeutic for me.

Not too long ago, I made a decision to go to after finishing the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk (there’s one other lake!), and Taupo supplied the right place to get well, unwind, and begin getting again to actuality.

I beloved it a lot, actually, that I returned 4 months later to spend one other couple of days hanging out beside the crystal-clear waters of Lake Taupo.

Taupo’s magnificent Huka Falls

What I Love About Taupo

So what do it is advisable find out about Taupo?

Effectively, I casually talked about above that Taupo is a lakeside city, however that’s type of underselling Lake Taupo to you, as a result of this physique of water — the biggest lake in New Zealand — is similar measurement as Singapore. It blew my thoughts after I realized simply how huge it’s, and I instantly understood why everyone refers to it as the inland sea of New Zealand. On a windy day, when visibility is low, you’d be forgiven for considering you had been standing on a shoreline, searching to sea.

In actuality, Lake Taupo is the crater of an enormous supervolcano, shaped after one of the crucial violent eruptions of the previous 5,000 years. After blowing all that it had into the environment, the volcano promptly died out and the extinct crater crammed itself with water. Nowadays, the lake is fed from a relentless stream of water from the close by snow-capped mountains.

And whereas Lake Taupo is now way more sedate than it was previously, proof of the realm’s geothermal exercise surrounds the city. You’ve bought geysers, scorching springs, and funky colors scattered throughout the panorama, and as you stand beside the waterfront, you’ll be unable to take your eyes off the trio of volcanoes within the distance.

Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu are all seen from Taupo, and so they make for significantly spectacular views throughout the lake. And talking of Mount Tongariro — you may’t overlook the Tongariro Crossing, which has been heralded as New Zealand’s finest one-day hike. After having accomplished it approach again in 2013, I can’t disagree with the evaluation.

If there’s one factor Taupo is most well-known for, nonetheless, it’s its journey actions. Whether or not it’s jet boating, bungy leaping, parasailing, or skydiving, there’s one thing for all adrenaline lovers, and vacationers arrive on the town every single day, looking for their subsequent repair.

If, like me, you are inclined to hit the skip button in relation to journey journey, you’ve nonetheless bought the small-town vibe of Taupo to take in, plus the handfuls of lovely nature trails and the lake to sit down beside with fish and chips in hand. Certainly one of my favorite actions in Taupo is strolling out to the magnificent Huka Falls and marvelling on the sheer energy this pure phenomenon generates.

On this put up, I’m going to be sharing all of my favorite issues to do in in Taupo.

(A be aware for my many American readers: costs on this put up are listed in New Zealand {Dollars} — on the time of writing, 100 NZD is round 70 USD.)

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I really like the turquoise colors of the water at Huka Falls

Stroll Out to Huka Falls

I can’t write about Taupo with out mentioning Huka Falls.

This highly effective waterfall is the most visited pure attraction within the entirety of New Zealand, and for good motive: it’s severely spectacular! What it lacks in peak, standing at simply 11 metres tall, it makes up for in power, as a whopping 220,000 litres of water barrels over it every second. For those who, like me, wrestle to conceptualise that quantity of water, let me let you know that it’s sufficient to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in simply 11 seconds.

The very best option to expertise the falls is from the bridge crossing over them, together with the various close by viewpoints scattered alongside the water’s edge. And when you can drive out to the falls, I like to recommend strolling as an alternative.

It takes an hour to finish the trek from Spa Park to the falls, alongside the Huka Falls Path, and it’s such a stunning path, weaving alongside the native forest, and I beloved listening to the roar of the water getting louder with every step. For those who solely have time to do one factor in Taupo, this must be it.

Jet Boating All of the Approach to Huka Falls


For those who’re one of many longest of long-time readers of By no means Ending Footsteps, chances are you’ll recall my fraught relationship with jet boats. Again in 2013, I made a decision to leap aboard the Huka Falls Jet with out a lot of an inclination of what jet boats even had been. The outcome? Effectively, I printed a photo essay of the resulting trauma for all to see and giggle at.

However I’ve come a good distance from that dramatic woman, and today, I completely adore jet boats. Critically — they’re a lot enjoyable! And the Huka Falls Jet? It’s the nation’s finest.

Whereas on board, you’ll race by way of a picturesque gorge, coming inside inches of sheer rock face, and simply as you regain your composure, bounce straight right into a 360-degree spin, earlier than getting proper up near the waterfall itself, witnessing its energy from metres away.

It’s an action-packed journey, and also you’ll be speaking about it for days afterwards.

Skydiving within the Greatest Place to Do So

Whenever you consider journey to New Zealand, you’re more than likely fantasising about epic landscapes and adrenaline-fuelled actions. In Taupo, you may mix each of those iconic attributes and bounce out of a airplane within the nation’s most skydived location. Sure, 30,000 individuals skydive in Taupo every year and for good motive.

You’ve bought pristine Lake Taupo, snow-capped volcanoes, and coast-to-coast views of the attractive North Island, all thrown in collectively to make for a very adventurous bounce. There’s a motive why Taupo is called the skydiving capital of the world.

And for those who’re a Lord of the Rings fan, know that close by Mt Ngauruhoe is Mount Doom from the films! There’s nothing extra badass than leaping from a airplane over that volcano.

A 12,000 ft bounce, with 40 seconds of freefall, is available in at just under 300 NZD. An 18,000 ft bounce with a whopping 75 seconds of freefall? That’s priced at $499.

Take a Scenic Flight Over the Volcanoes

If skydiving isn’t your factor, you may nonetheless stand up shut and private with the volcanoes from the air — by taking a scenic flight over them.

You’ve bought a few choices right here, with each helicopter and float planes up for grabs and also you’ll be capable of select which space to see earlier than you fly.

Go try Huka Falls from above, soar over the trio of snow-capped volcanoes to take a look at Mount Ruapehu’s volcanic lake — pictured above — or head out over the rainbow-coloured geothermal landscapes to see them from a unique approach. Hell, you may even join a scenic flight over White Island — New Zealand’s notorious energetic volcano that erupted in 2019, killing 22 visitors — for those who’re feeling significantly daring.

Guide your floatplane expertise with Taupo Floatplane (costs ranging from $109) or your helicopter journey with Inflite Experiences (costs from $195).

Verify Out the McDonald’s in a Airplane

Talking of planes, Taupo is the one place on the planet the place you may eat a McDonald’s inside a airplane with out attracting a healthy dose of side-eye from the individuals round you.

The decommissioned DC-Three plane has been on web site for 30 years now, having been bought by McDonald’s approach again in 1990. Seating 20 diners, it nonetheless has the unique cockpit within the airplane, and it makes for a very attention-grabbing place to eat your Massive Mac.

Let’s face it: none of us go on vacation to eat McDonald’s, but when you end up with a craving, it is a distinctive place on the town to fulfill it.

The Highest Water-Contact Bungy Soar

Taupo is all in regards to the journey actions, so that you shouldn’t be shocked to be taught it’s residence to New Zealand’s highest water-touch bungy bounce. Not solely that, it’s additionally New Zealand’s solely clifftop bungee bounce!

Situated above the pristine Waikato River, you’ll pay world-famous bungy-jumping firm AJ Hackett simply $120 to bounce down into these refreshing waters. You’ll be able to bounce alone or with a pal, and you too can select if you wish to be dunked within the river or stay dry. However the place’s the enjoyable within the latter?

If bungy leaping isn’t your factor, AJ Hackett additionally operates a large swing in the identical location. Hooked up to a rope that’s virtually 50 metres lengthy, you’ll leap from that clifftop and end up reaching speeds of as much as 70km/h as you swing backwards and forwards over the turquoise river. Badass.

Verify Out the Maori Carvings at Mine Bay

Now, that is significantly superior!

Out on Lake Taupo, there’s a spot referred to as Mine Bay, and in that bay, you’ll discover a up to date Maori rock carving, 14 metres excessive, etched into the rock. I be aware that they’re comparatively current, versus historical, as lots of people find yourself disenchanted once they uncover they had been accomplished in 1980. Nonetheless, I feel they’re fairly rattling cool-looking.

Mine Bay is just accessible by water, so your three choices for seeing them are by cruise ($35), yacht ($49), or by kayak ($115). The latter will permit you to get a lot nearer, in order that’s what I like to recommend. However whichever vessel you select, the carvings are severely spectacular and well-worth heading out to.

Hike Mount Tauhara

For those who’re trying to keep energetic when you’re in Taupo, there are such a lot of nature trails and hikes to set out on.

Certainly one of my favourites, although, is the hike to the highest of Mount Tauhara. Now an extinct volcano, its dome form gives a killer exercise — in a great way — and the views from the highest, trying over the countryside are stunning. The trail generally is a little sketchy at time, with tree roots and rocks to stumble over, however it’s nothing too difficult.

The path is 2.5 kilometres in size — a method — and climbs round 500 metres in elevation. It takes two or three hours to sort out the return journey, relying on how match you’re — simply head to Mount Tauhara automobile park to start out your stroll.

Fish and Chips By the Lake

Certainly one of my favorite night actions in Taupo is wandering over to a fish and chip store, grabbing a takeaway, and consuming it sitting on a patch of sunny grass, searching throughout the lake.

Tasty Fish and Chips is my go-to place, because it’s proper beside the water.

A parasailer on Lake Taupo, with the volcanoes silhouetted within the far distance

Parasail on the Lake

Whilst you’re having your fish and chips, you’ll undoubtedly discover the variety of individuals taking to the sky. Parasailing is enormous in Taupo, and it’s uncommon to see the water with out anyone hovering excessive above its waters.

Whenever you’re 1,000 ft up over the lake, you’ll acquire a brand new perspective of Taupo city whereas concurrently having the ability to look all the way in which to these volcanoes that I maintain banging on about.

Big Sky Parasail expenses $95 per individual for a tandem flight. They’ll additionally throw in an freefall — don’t fear, it’s non-obligatory. From their web site:

We’ve got perfected the Parasail Freefall, which is the artwork of stopping the boat and letting you parachute 40 tales right down to the water. Earlier than you make contact, nonetheless, we’ll begin the engine and also you’ll be whisked again up into the sky. We wish to name it Taupo’s quickest elevator! It’s not as scary because it sounds; it’s extra of a sluggish, surrealistic feeling. When requested, everybody says that is the most effective a part of their flight.

Do with that info what you’ll.

Aratiatia Dam Water Launch

For those who’re on a good finances and in search of some free actions to fill your time in Taupo, look no additional that the Aratiatia Dam launch. This works significantly effectively with the stroll from Spa Park to Huka Falls — for those who proceed down the identical path, you’ll find yourself on the Aratiatia Rapids.

Water is launched by way of this dam a number of occasions a day. In summer time, it’s at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and four p.m., whereas in winter, it’s at 10, 12, and a pair of.

It takes round two hours to succeed in the dam from Spa Park — not together with time for taking photographs — so I’d intention to depart Spa Park round three hours earlier than the water launch. At 11 a.m. for the two p.m. launch, for instance.

If 4 hours of strolling seems like your concept of hell, no worries. You’ll be able to drive to the dam, as an alternative.

So what’s so particular about it?

When the gates to the dam open, you’ll be capable of watch in awe as a relaxed, slender stream instantly transforms into turbulent rapids, with water gushing previous at 80,000 litres per second. Fifteen minutes later, the spill gates are closed and the tranquil stream returns. It’s fairly wild to get to witness the ability of nature like that.

There’s a number of nice viewpoints for watching the water launch — most individuals decide to face on the bridge beside the dam, however I like to recommend venturing alongside the brief strolling path to realize a greater vantage level.

For those who haven’t but had sufficient journey in Taupo, I like to recommend leaping on the Rapids Jet to really feel the power of the Aratiatia Rapids up shut. When the dam gates open, you’ll be proper in the midst of the motion, on the river, powering by way of the surges and totally experiencing the forces of the water.

And eventually, for those who’re a fan of all issues Tolkien, a number of the scenes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug had been filmed proper right here within the rapids — specifically, the scene when escaping dwarves hid out in barrels which had been then thrown downstream.

Hit the Cycle Trails

Taupo is a superb place to get your biking on, with dozens upon dozens of trails which are ready to be explored. Even higher: it’s an exercise you may partake in year-round, because the free-draining pumice soil stays dry, even in the midst of winter.

I like to recommend Craters Mountain Bike Park, which is residence to 55 kilometres of trails, all winding by way of a pine plantation and providing up a mixture of newbie routes and hardcore choices.

There are many in a single day choices, too — from the 71 km Nice Lake Path, which encompasses the western shores of Lake Taupo, to the 85 km Timber Path, which follows the trail of outdated logging roads, interspersed with a collection of exhilerating suspension bridges.

You’ll be able to even sort out the path that leads from Spa Park to Aratiatia Dam through Huka Falls with ease — we met tons of cyclists on our stroll out to the falls.

Get Your Trout On

Let’s face it: I’m removed from a fishing fanatic, and but I can’t write about Taupo with out mentioning the truth that the rivers surrounding Lake Taupo make this space the trout fishing capital of the world.

Sure, actually.

Folks journey from throughout to attempt their hand at fly fishing in one of many space’s six rivers. Hottest is the Tongariro River, the place you may try to catch rainbow trout and brown trout — there’s detailed info on NZ Fishing, for those who’re . You’ll be able to even travel into the backcountry for a fishing-themed journey, hitting up a number of the rivers which are solely accessible by helicopter.

For those who’re travelling with youngsters, take them over to the Tongariro National Trout Centre, the place there’s a youngsters’s fishing pond stuffed with trout for them to attempt catching. Our nephew completely beloved attempting his hand at this and he nonetheless can’t cease speaking in regards to the time he caught a fish and ate it for dinner that night time! The trout centre will fortunately fillet and smoke your child’s catch of the day, able to eat, with the choice of turning it right into a sandwich with freshly-baked ciabatta. So enjoyable!

Discover the Geothermal Exercise

If, like me, you like your geothermal wonders, you’ll have loads to maintain you busy when you’re in Taupo.

The highly-active Orakei Korako was described by Lonely Planet as “arguably the most effective geothermal space left in New Zealand”, and I beloved wandering round its mud swimming pools, scorching springs, 35 geysers, and vibrant silica terraces. To get there, you’ll take a ferry throughout Lake Ohakuri, then stroll alongside the boardwalks crossing over the thermal landscapes. One of many coolest elements of the realm is Ruatapu Cave, one in all solely two caves on the planet recognized to exist in a geothermal area — contained in the cave, you’ll discover a vertical drop of 25 metres, to a shallow pool of clear, heat acid water, often known as the Pool of Mirrors. Entrance is barely cheaper at $40 per individual through Viator.

You’ve additionally bought the Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Well being Spa, the waters of which have been utilized by Maori for his or her therapeutic properties for a whole bunch of years. Nowadays, I like to recommend spending half a day dipping out and in of three mineral-rich scorching swimming pools, then wander over to the silica terraces for a Pamukkale-esque expertise.

And you’ll’t overlook Craters of the Moon! It’s an epic walkway by way of barren, moon-like landscapes, with effervescent mud swimming pools, steaming craters, and vibrant soil.

If it was right down to me and I might solely go to 1 place for geothermal exercise in Taupo, I like to recommend Orakei Korako. It’s extra spectacular than Craters of the Moon, for my part. Whereas Orakei Korako is dearer, you do get extra on your cash total.

The Greatest Day Journeys From Taupo

The Tongariro Crossing
My favorite viewpoint of the Tongariro Crossing. Sure, that’s Mt. Doom for all of my LotR followers!

Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Heralded as New Zealand’s biggest one-day stroll, the Tongariro Crossing is a really exceptional hike. I imply, simply take a look at that other-worldly surroundings! More often than not, I felt as if I used to be strolling on the moon as I skirted previous energetic volcanoes, snow-capped mountains, and glistening emerald lakes.

It’s a troublesome trek, coming in at 20 kilometres, or 12 miles, and climbing as much as virtually 2,000 metres in altitude, so it’ll take everything of a day to finish. Allocate between seven and 9 hours, relying in your health skills.

It’s straightforward to sort out from Taupo, even for those who don’t have your personal transport, as there are a number of corporations who function return shuttle transport from town ($35).

And That Was Taupo!

I really like Taupo and imagine it’s well-worth including to your North Island itinerary. You’ve bought the peaceable lake, the epic volcanoes, the geothermal exercise, and loads of adrenaline actions. What’s to not love?

I can’t wait to return.

Does Taupo Sound Like Your Sort of Place?

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