Recently voted the number one destination to visit in New Zealand for 2015, the pristine lake district of Taupo boasts some of the country’s best water activities. But despite its reputation as a hub for aquatic adventures, Taupohas much more to offer than jet boating, skydiving and bungy jumping.
Surrounded by natural wonders like the volcanic landscapes and mountain peaks of TongariroNational Park, Taupo is also one of the country’s top destinations for land-based activities such as hiking, cycling, climbing and skiing.
Located in the heart of the North Island, the town of Taupo can be reached via air or land and isaround three and a half hours drive from Auckland and four and a half hours from Wellington. For an action-packed trip you won’t forget, take a look at these must-see destinations.
The Great Lake Trail
Covering 74km of deep bush, this trail takes cyclist past the deep blue waters of Lake Taupodown to the rocky mountain peaks and steamy volcanic craters of Tongariro National Park. With many of the western areas of Lake Taupo only accessible via this track, The Great Lake Trail offers both rare and unique views of the area. Although the track may be ridden year-round, it is recommended to visit during winter when the air is crisp and the mountains are white. This trail can be covered across two days and a night or split into sections depending on time and fitness.
For a chance to see a live volcano close up, head to Mt Ruapehu. Around an hour and a half’s drive from Taupo, Mt Ruapehu is one of New Zealand’s highest peaks outside the Southern Alps. Although guided walks are given during the summer months, there’s still a high a chance of seeing snow on this five-hour walk. During winter, Mt Ruapehu transforms into a winter wonderland. Boasting New Zealand’s largest ski area, Mt Ruapehuis a must-visit for any avid skier or snowboarder.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Frequently rated as “the best one day trek in New Zealand” and commonly featured on top ten lists of the best treks in the world, Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must-do for any adventure traveller. Showcasing some of the most diverse and dramatic scenery in the area, hikers can expect to see emerald lakes, bubbling streams, forests, jagged mountain peaks and of course, the famous volcanic activity that Tongariro is known for. Fans of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy will also be delighted to see Mount Ngauruhoe or ‘Mount Doom’ on the crossing. Just an hour’s drive from Taupo, this trail may be done in one day year-round, although a guide is required during winter for safety reasons.
Sky Diving & Bungy Jumping
As one of the skydiving capitals of the world, Taupo takes the record for the most tandem skydives each year out of anywhere on the planet. And it’s not hard to see why! Offering coast-to-coast views of snow-capped volcanoes, forests and lakes skydiving, this one adventure you’re unlikely to forget.
Needless to say, Taupo is also a great spot for bungy jumping. Home to the country’s highest water touch bungy, thrill seekers can dunk themselves in the water of the nearby Waikato River from a 47-metre drop.
Kayaking is a great way to see Lake Taupoand its surrounding scenery. It’s also one of the only ways to view the ten metre high Maori rock carvings located in the nearby Mine Bay. One of Taupo’s biggest attractions, these impressive carvings can only be accessed by water. Created by master carver MatahiWhakataka-Brightwell and Jonathan Randellin the 70s as a gift to the lakeside town, the carvings provide a fascinating look at Maori culture.
Another great option for kayaking is the Waikato River. One of Taupo’s best kept secrets, this route takes kayakers from the centre of town past numerous islands, swimming spots and bungy jumpers to Taupo’s iconic Huka Falls. Here, kayakers are greeted by one of New Zealand’s most visited and photographed natural attractions, an 11-metre high waterfall. With more than 220, 000 litres of water passing blasting through the waterfall ever second, Haku Falls is truly a remarkable sight.
Fishing and Rafting on the Tongariro River
Just 35 minutes drive from Taupo lays the crystal clear waters of the Tongariro River. Known as the ‘trout fishing capital of New Zealand,’ Tongariro River is packed rainbow and brown trout. But it isn’t just fishing that attracts adventurers to the region. With more than 50 plus rapids, white water rafting on the Tongariro River is one of the region’s most popular rafting options. Boasting more rapids than any other comparable river journey in the country, this half-day trip takes adventurers through an ancient volcanic gorge surrounded by lush native flora and fauna.
Adventure Sports on Lake Taupo
Adrenaline junkies won’t be disappointed by the sheer number of adventure sports on offer at Lake Taupo. Whether it’s jetting down the 11-metre high Huka Falls, soaring over the lake on a parasail or wakeboarding, there’s no shortage of ways to get the heart pumping.