Lake Taupō

A once great volcano

Lake Taupō

A once great volcano

Located on the North Island’s volcanic central plateau, Lake Taupō was formed as a result of a massive eruption around 27,000 years ago. 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.

Ruapehu region marker

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.

The lakeside town of Taupō is the main centre in the region. Here are approximate travel times and distances to and from Taupō.

Drive times

  • Auckland to Taupō: 270 km / 168 miles – 3 hours 40 minutes
  • Rotorua to Taupō: 80 km / 50 miles – 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Napier to Taupō: 140 km / 87 miles – 2 hours
  • Taupō to Whakapapa village (for ski field and Tongariro National Park): 100 km / 62 miles – 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Taupō to Ohakune (for ski field): 135 km / 84 miles – 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Taupō to Wellington: 370 km / 230 miles – 5 hours

Travel times can vary significantly, particularly in popular areas during peak visitor months (December – February). For current travel times and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures, use the NZ Transport Agency journey planner before travelling. It’s always a good idea to allow extra time for photo stops and, when travelling longer distances, rest stops.

Taupō Airport is located 8 km / 5 miles south of Taupo town centre on the eastern shore of the lake.

  • Auckland (AKL) to Taupō (TUO): 50 minutes
  • Wellington (WLG) to Taupō (TUO): 60 minutes

As the North Island’s highest urban centre, Taupō has more marked seasons than most other North Island regions. In summer (December – February) the average high is 23 °C / 73.4 °F and average low is 11 °C / 51.8 °F. Temperatures can reach 30 °C on hot sunny days.

Winters (June – August) are cool with an average high of 12 °C / 53.6 °F and an average low of 3 °C / 37.4 °F. Morning frosts and minus degrees temperatures are not uncommon but snow in Taupō itself is rare.

Check current conditions and get the latest Taupō weather forecast on

While there’s not much you can do about the weather once you’re here, it’s worth knowing what to expect at different times of the year and in different parts of the country. These two articles are well worth reading:

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.

Lake Taupo Maori Rock Carvings

Adrenalin activities

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…

Prefer to stay dry or at least dryish?

  • Experience New Zealand’s only cliff-top bungy with an optional water-touch.
  • Tandem skydive from 18,500 ft for incredible coast-to-coast views of the North Island.
Tongariro River Rafting

Geothermal attractions

Taupō is part of the Taupō Volcanic Zone which stretches from Whakaari/White Island 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 or, for a more relaxed atmosphere, head to Wairakei Terraces.

Orakei Korako

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.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing