Taupō, located in the middle of the North Island, New Zealand is approximately three and a half hours south of Auckland. A major volcanic eruption nearly two thousand years ago formed this area and shaped it into a lakeside paradise. Lake Taupō, is now the volcanic crater that has been filled with fresh water making it the second largest lake in Oceania. The lake and the geothermal activity from the volcano are what draws visitors to the region with the wide range of activities on and off the water. Tongariro National Park is also within close proximity of Taupō which has popular ski fields and hiking trails. Taupō has something for everyone whether it’s adventure or relaxation, family friendly or a couple’s getaway.
History and culture
Taupō has a devastating and interesting history that is unique because of its volcanic eruptions. The area saw numerous eruptions, with the most recent being Taupo eruption 1800 years ago which is said to be the most violent eruption in the world from the last 5000 years. Lava domes, pumice and ash covered the country, there was even reports that the dark skies could be seen as far as China. According to the legends of the Maori lake Taupo is the beating heart of Maui’s fish (known more commonly as the North Island).
Maori settled in the region approximately 700 years ago where Ngatoroirangi led the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe to the area. The tribe built pas (settlements) around the lake before early Europeans settled in the 1830s. Europeans contributed to the area by building churches and converting Maori to become Christians. In the 1800’s and 1900’s a variety of trout were also introduced by Europeans. Introduction of trout was initially for fishing as a hobby but later started attracting tourists to the region. Still to this day fishing for trout in Taupo is a popular activity.
Taupo Town Centre
A bustling lakeside town centre is found in Taupō with picturesque views everywhere you look. Art galleries and boutique shops line the towns streets. Clothing shops include designer labels both local and international. For those looking for a special something to put in their homes Taupō has it all with numerous beautiful home-ware stores. The more adventurous can find all they need in the many outdoor and sporting shops. On Saturday mornings, locals and tourists enjoy The Taupō Market with stalls selling a range of unique goods; jewellery, crafts, and delicious homemade treats.
The cuisine in many of Taupō’s cafes and restaurants is focused on fresh local ingredients. With the lakes fresh water and lush farm pastures the region produces quality ingredients like beef and manuka honey. Don’t forget the trout you can catch on your fishing expeditions; this special fish isn’t sold in shops so if you want to eat it just ask a restaurant or your accommodation to cook it. World-class cuisine is also found at some of the countries most prestigious lodges in Taupō.
Retreat to the luxurious lifestyle at some of New Zealand’s most impressive luxury lodges. Lake Taupō provides views for a number of these lodges. Relax and unwind taking in the surrounding nature or enjoy something a bit more adventurous with an exclusive helicopter ride, fishing, boat cruise, skiing or golfing. Well known Taupo luxury lodges include; Kinloch Lodge and Huka Lodge both set in tranquil areas with memorable experiences.
Lake Taupo water activities
A major attraction that was caused by the volcano which is connected to Lake Taupō is the dramatic crystal clear Huka Falls. These falls are the most visited natural attraction in New Zealand. The name Huka is Maori for the word ‘foam’ which is displayed through the water and rapids. Other activities on the water include fishing, kayaking, boat cruises and white-water rafting. Venture out to view the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay by boat or kayak is a popular option.
<Steam, bubbling mud and craters started to emerge in Taupō in the 1950s. Taupō volcanic zone stretches from Tongariro National Park to White Island and has a range of interesting geothermal activity. The Craters of the Moon Geothermal Park is a fascinating geothermal area that has boardwalks through the steam vents. A wooden boardwalk was created to protect visitors from getting burnt and these walkways are often moved when new vents arise. Just as popular if not more is the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park located between Taupō and Rotorua. This park is truly magical with so many colours, hot springs and geysers, so stunning it was even labelled the best geothermal area in New Zealand by Lonely Planet. Other geothermal experiences include; bathing in a hot water fall or natural hot springs and a warm water interactive playground for kids at Taupo De Bretts Spa and Resort.
While Queenstown is named the adventure capital of New Zealand, Taupō claims the title of the North Island adventure capital. If you love heights a sky-dive, bungy or para-sail are great options. On the water jet skiing, jet boating and white-water rafting are for the adrenaline junkies. Taupō is also home to some of the most stunning lake walks and cycling tracks. Further out from Taupō approximately an hour away is the famous World Heritage site – Tongariro National park. The 80,000-hectare park is located on three volcanoes – Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu and Tongariro all with dramatic volcanic landscapes. Enjoy skiing or snowboarding the Ruapehu slopes and hike the world famous Tongariro crossing.