Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand. It is located in the centre of the North Island and is larger in square kilometers than Singapore. Lake Taupo was created from a volcanic eruption . Years ago, and three of New Zealand’s dormant volcanoes lies on the southern shores: Mounts Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu dominate the skyline. The main town on the lake is Taupo itself, a small town with heaps of activities and geothermal attractions.
LAKE TAUPO ACTIVITIES
The town of Taupo sits at the top of the lake and is the base for many travelers who plan to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing or Northern Circuit. The crossing is a one-day hike, the Northern Circuit is a three-day hike. For travelers that want to explore the Geothermal Highway, this is the perfect base camp. Here are four don’t-miss activities at Lake Taupo.
Tongariro Crossing/Northern Circuit
New Zealand’s best one-day hike is a six to eight hour tramp across a dormant volcano, from the rich volcanic fields of Mangatepopo and the Stairmaster-like Devil’s Staircase to the several vast craters and the domineering summit of Sir Peter Jackson’s Mount Doom (Ngauruhoe) to Emerald Lakes and to the alpine shrub as you descend the mountain. The Northern Circuit takes in much of the National Park in addition to the famous ascent and crater traverse.
Located halfway between Rotorua and Taupo, Otakei Korako is also known as the Hidden Valley and is one of the area’s least visited geothermal attractions, despite being the largest and most unique. Otakei Korako is also a very active geothermal site, with multiple geysers, mud pools, and silica terraces. ($36/adult)
The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is the largest cycling event in New Zealand. It is held on the last Saturday of November each year. The main event – the 160km circumnavigation of Lake Taupo – is only one of many events; there are also road and mountain biking challenges for both teams and individuals. Learn more here: cyclechallenge
Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon is only eight minutes from town, but is a world away. This geothermal attrac-tion is covered with vegetation; the only sign of activity is the heavy steam that rises from the cra-ters. This is the least expensive of the geothermal sites and its size means that while it may look crowded from the carpark, you’ll feel as though you have the place to yourself. ($8/adult)
ACTIVITIES IN TAUPO TOWN
Because Taupo is the base for many travelers that are exploring the central plateau, it has a vibrant social scene, especially in the summer. Here are several don’t-miss activities in Taupo.
Spa Park’s secret spa
This not-so-hidden secret is one of Taupo’s most popular destinations for those in the know. Tucked down the hill and around the corner from Spa Park proper is a hot stream. The stream flows into the Waikato River, so if the hot water gets to much, you can jump off the bridge into the river or simply stick your legs into the cooler water. The park gates do close at dusk, and the stream is often crowded, but its well-worth a visit after a long day of explorations.
Skydive Lake Taupo
The Skydive Lake Taupo is one of New Zealand’s best jumps. The view over the lake, the volca-noes, and even across the plateau to Mount Taranaki is stunning on a sunny summer’s day. If you are looking for a place to make that epic jump, Lake Taupo should be your first choice. Jumps start at $299 (12,000ft, no video or photos.)
More a series of rapids than an actual cascade, Huka Falls is unexpectedly cool. The vivid blue of the water, the frothing white rapids, and the clever walls that edge the wild water make for an in-teresting viewing. Walk from Spa Park (1.5 hours return) or drive from town (5 minutes.)
WHERE TO STAY IN LAKE TAUPO
There are a lot of accommodation choices in and around Lake Taupo, from backpacker hostels and self-catered campsites & motels to luxury hotels. Here is a short list of where to stay in Lake Taupo.
Haka Lodge, 56 Kaimanawa St, Taupo, New Zealand
Taupo DeBrett’s Spa Resort and Campground, 76 Napier-Taupo Road, SH 5, Taupo, New Zealand
Hilton Lake Taupo, 80-100 Napier Road, Taupo, New Zealand