The lake is undeniably Taupo’s biggest drawcard – and at 616 square kilometres it’s also New Zealand’s biggest lake by surface area – but there are plenty of other reasons to visit, too. Try these for starters.
Cycle the Great Lake Trail
71km of deep bush and lakefront trails offering stunning views of Lake Taupo and the Tongariro National Park. Many of the western areas of the lake are only accessible by the trail, so it’s a gem for anyone seeking total peace and tranquility.
The Great Lake Trail can be ridden in two days, or split into shorter sections to suit your fitness level and/or time frame. The free draining pumice soil of the trail means it can be ridden all year round.
If you’re more of a road rider, there are lots of different road routes around the lake. Download a free guide from Bike Taupo.
Visit Huka Falls
This thundering 11 metre high waterfall is the most visited and photographed natural attraction in New Zealand. 220,000 litres of water cascade through the rock face every second – enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in just 11 seconds!
The falls are located just a short drive from Taupo town. Alternatively, there’s an easy and scenic walking track from Spa Park. The trail crosses the natural hot spring of Otumuheke Stream and meanders through gullies, forest and open farmland, offering great views of the Waikato River and open valleys along the way. It’s a two-hour return trip.
See Maori Rock Carvings
Located at Mine Bay and only accessible from the water these impressive carvings are over 10 metres high. While they might look like the remains of an ancient Maori village they were actually created in the late 70s by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and Jonathan Randell as a gift to Taupo. Access the carvings by jumping aboard a scenic cruise across the lake or a kayaking tour.
Jump in a hot pool
Hot pool fans are spoiled for choice in Taupo with both paid and free bathing spots on offer. Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs is the swanky option: two thermal outdoor pools, 12 private pools, fresh water pools, a children’s warm water playground and a giant dragon hydroslide. For complete peace and quiet, head to Wairakei Terraces Hot Pools (adults-only), set amongst beautiful, natural surroundings. For those on a budget, a free dip can be found at Otumuheke Stream at Spa Park. This is a hot stream that flows into the Waikato River and creates natural hot pools.
Go trout fishing
40 minutes south of Taupo lies the town on Turangi, known as the ‘Trout Fishing Capital of New Zealand.’ Fishing charters and fly fishing guides can be hired throughout the Taupo region or pay a visit to the Tongariro National Trout Centre and hatchery to pick up some tips.
Have a great week,
P.S. The Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge takes place every November and is another great way to experience everything Taupo has to offer. There’s a massive array of entry categories and races, from shorter, easier events to full-on, hard-core challenges. Read about mine and Logan’s experiences here:
Andy & Logan Survive the Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge
Image: Herry Lawford