What to Do in Taupo: The Adventure Capital of the North Island
In the heart of the North Island on the shore’s of New Zealand’s largest lake, the town of Taupo is a must-stop on any North Island road trip. The town offers many amazing outdoor pursuits, from fishing on the lake to epic mountain bike trails. Feel your heartbeat with unforgettable skydiving, jet boating, bungy jumping and white water rafting. Or relax in geothermal hot pools or with a coffee at one of the many quaint cafes. It almost feels like the possibilities are endless in this attractive small town, so get started with this list of things to do in Taupo.
1. Visit the Mighty Huka Falls
See what all the fuss is about at New Zealand’s most-visited natural attraction, Huka Falls! Check out where the Waikato River squeezes into a narrow ravine blasting around 220,000 litres of water through every second. Experience this natural wonder for yourself on either the walkway with several viewing points, on a jet boat ride with Hukafalls Jet, or get a birds-eye-view with an Inflight helicopter flight.
Location: Huka Falls Road, 6km from Taupo
2. Check Out the Maori Rock Carvings
New Zealand’s largest lake in the crater of a supervolcano is an impressive area to explore in itself. Combine this with the cultural experience of the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings and you’re in for a spectacular day on the lake! The 14m-high rock carvings can be admired from the historic steamboat with Earnest Kemp Cruises, on a relaxed sailing journey with Sail Barbary or Sail Fearless, or on a kayaking excursion with Taupo Kayaking Adventures.
Location: Lake Taupo
3. Explore the Geothermal Parks
As mentioned, Lake Taupo is a pretty impressive volcanic feature in itself, but there is more geothermal activity to see around the town. Visit the Craters of the Moon, a geothermal walkway with steaming vents and bubbling mud pools. There’s the Wairakei Thermal Valley, or venture 30 minutes north of Taupo to find one of the most colourful attractions of the area, Orakei Korako Geothermal Park.
Location: Craters of the Moon – Karapito Road, 7km from Taupo. Wairakei Thermal Valley – 9km from Taupo. Orakei Korako – Tutukau Road, 37km from Taupo.
4. Get an Adrenaline Rush
Most would agree that Taupo is the adrenaline capital of the North Island thanks to its menu of heart-thumping activities. Skydive from 18,500ft with Tandem Taupo Skydiving or Skydive Taupo, do New Zealand’s highest water-touch jump with Taupo Bungy, jet boat the rapids with Rapids Jet or to a geothermal canyon with NZ Riverjet… And the list goes on! Head over to our 10 Best Adventure Activities in Taupo.
Location: All over Taupo
5. Hit the Taupo Bike Trails
Whatever the season and whatever your ability, there’s a bike trail for you here in Taupo! Try easy cycling on the Great Lake Walkway/Lion’s Walk, a paved walkway with expansive lake views. The Great Lake Trail offers 71km of scenic mountain biking trails on the shores of Lake Taupo. For some downhill thrills, check out the Craters Mountain Bike Park with flowing cross-country trails from grade 2 to 5. Find out more in our 10 Awesome Bike Trails Around Lake Taupo.
Location: All over Taupo
6. Stretch Your Legs on the Taupo Walks
If you prefer to have your feet solidly on the ground and let’s face it, save a few cents, then you’ll love the range of walking trails on offer around Taupo. A popular option is walking from Spa Park, home to the natural hot water spring of Otumuheke Stream, to Huka Falls (2-hour return). The Opepe Reserve just outside of the town is a great example of ancient native forest. Check out more suggestions in our 13 Free or Cheap Activities in Taupo.
Location: Spa Park – Country Avenue just off Spa Road. Opepe Reserve – State Highway 5, 17km from Taupo.
7. Catch a Trout on the Great Lake
Lake Taupo offers some of the best trout fishing in New Zealand, which the locals take pride in with endless trout sculptures and decorations throughout the town. Join one of the local fishing charters departing from the Taupo Marina or if you’re a keen fisherman (or woman) yourself all you’ll need is your gear and a trout fishing license from the local i-SITE and you’re good to go.
Location: Taupo Marina
8. Play Golf
Golfers, you’re in luck as Taupo just happens to have six golf courses. The Kinloch Club and the Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary are both considered some of the best golf courses in New Zealand. More fantastic options await though, at the Taupo Golf Club, the only course in New Zealand to offer two 18-hole courses, and the Wairakei Resort’s 9-hole course is one of the most affordable courses in the area with beautiful treelined fairways.
Location: All over Taupo & Kinloch
9. Indulge in the Local Eateries
Quaint cafes, international restaurants, fast food, lakeside dining, cheap eats… There’s a restaurant in Taupo to suit any taste and mood, so take the time to wander around Taupo’s streets and laneways to discover the fantastic array of eateries.
Location: All over Taupo
10. Visit the Museums & Art Galleries
For those days when the weather isn’t playing ball or if you want to simply culture yourself, a reliable option is to visit the Taupo Museum. See visual history displays, galleries, Maori art and relics. Alternatively, check out Lava Glass, a studio and cafe with glass blowing and a sculpture garden. For more inspiration, see our 12 Things to do in Taupo on a Rainy Day.
Location: Taupo Museum, Story Place. Lava Glass – State Highway 5, 10km from Taupo.