A once great volcano
Located on the North Island’s volcanic central plateau, Lake Taupō was formed as a result of a massive eruption in 186AD. Today, this caldera or crater lake covers just over 600 square kilometres (370 square miles), making it the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. Surrounded by beautiful forests and volcanic mountains, this region is a year round adventure playground.
Water sports like kayaking and sailing are obviously hugely popular on the lake but there is so much more to choose from. There are a number of scenic mountain bike trails around the lake as well as a purpose built mountain bike park. Looking for something a little more adrenalin-filled? Try white water rafting, jet boating, bungy jumping and skydiving.
For something a little less active, visits to Craters of the Moon or the impressive Orakei Korako Hidden Valley will give you some idea of the area’s volcanic nature or if you want to go into full relax mode, have a soak in the geothermal hot springs at DeBretts.
Top things to do in Lake Taupō
Looking for ideas to help you plan the ultimate New Zealand outdoor adventure? Here are some of the top things for active travellers to see and do in the Lake Taupō region.
Visit Māori rock carvings in Mine Bay
Only accessible from the water, the impressive 10 metre high Māori rock carvings in Mine Bay are a definite must do for anyone visiting Lake Taupō. For active adventurers, a 6 km / 4 mile return paddle is definitely the way to go although scenic lake cruises are also an option.
Remember those adrenalin activities we were telling you about? Where there’s a lake there’s usually a river and where there’s a river…
- Navigate over 60 Grade 3 rapids on the Tongariro River with the crew from Tongariro River Rafting.
- Jet boat to the base of the mighty Huka Falls.
- Shoot through the narrowest canyon on the Waikato River to the base of the Aratiatia Rapids, NZ’s biggest and longest rapids with Rapids Jet.
Prefer to stay dry or at least dryish?
- Experience New Zealand’s highest water touch bungy jump.
- Tandem skydive from 15,000 ft for incredible coast-to-coast views of the North Island.
Taupō is part of the Taupō Volcanic Zone which stretches from Whakaari/White Island (a must do destination by the way) to Mount Ruapehu. Magma below the earth’s crust heats the surface in some areas which erupt in the form of steam vents, bubbling mud pools and hot springs. This is most evident in places like Craters of the Moon, a geothermal walkway just north of Taupō town centre, as well as Orakei Korako which boasts the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand.
If hot water and relaxation is what you’re after, the natural mineral pools at Taupo DeBretts hot springs are definitely worth a visit.
Head for the mountains
National Park Village, the gateway to the Tongariro National Park is just 100 km / 62 miles south of Taupō. The Tongariro National Park is a dual World Heritage area and home to Mount Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest peak.
There are numerous short, day and multi-day walks in the park including the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. In winter, the mountain comes alive with three commercial ski areas, Whakapapa, Turoa and Tukino.