What to Do in Turangi: The Gateway to the Tongariro National Park
If you love the great outdoors, then you’ll no doubt love the adventures surrounding the town of Turangi. On the southern shores of Lake Taupo, Turangi is an excellent base for white water rafting, fishing and hiking along the Tongariro River, hitting the volcanic terrain of the Tongariro National Park, and discovering hidden gems like the Kaimanawa Mountains or Kuratau Lagoon. We’ll go through just some of the highlights in this list of things to do in Turangi!
1. Walk Around the Stunning Lake Rotopounamu
This is what Turangi is all about: the great outdoors! Only 15 minutes drive away is a walking trail around the tranquil Lake Rotopounamu. This two-hour loop walk delves into native forest alive with birdsong, thanks to local conservation efforts. The walk features three beaches to enjoy expansive views across the lake and to the volcanic peak of Mt Pihanga. Find more walks in the area in the 12 Turangi Walks You Can’t Miss.
Location: State Highway 47, 12km from Turangi.
2. Hike in the Famous Tongariro National Park
Yes, right on the doorstep of Turangi is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Tongariro National Park. Shuttles run daily throughout the hiking season from Turangi to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, making Turangi a great base for your New Zealand bucket list activity. For those looking for something a little quieter, try the Tama Lakes Track for views that are just as spectacular. Check out our 10 Tongariro National Park Must-Dos for more inspiration.
Location: Whakapapa Village, the national park base, is off State Highway 47, 47km from Turangi.
3. Check Out the Geothermal Activity in Tokaanu
See bubbling mud, steaming lakes and bathe in hot pools in the little town of Tokaanu. The Tokaanu Geothermal Walk is a 20-minute loop walk passing steaming lakes and hot springs. Relax in the Tokaanu Hot Pools next to the Geothermal Walk or many of the town’s accommodation also have their own natural hot spring-fed hot pools.
Location: State Highway 41, 7km from Turangi.
4. Get Off the Beaten Track in the Kaimanawa Mountains
Swap the busy hiking trails of the Tongariro National Park for the peaceful forests of the Kaimanawa Ranges. The best entrance to take from Turangi is down Kaimanawa Road where a gravel road leads to a myriad of walking trails. Enjoy breathtaking views from atop Mt Urchin or Mt Umukarikari, be in awe at The Pillars of Hercules or just embrace the bird sounds and lush greenery on one of the many forest trails. It’s also a good place to camp for the night with a few free campsites.
Location: Kaimanawa Road, 20km from Turangi.
5. Try Trout Fishing in the Tongariro River
Get hooked onto world-class rainbow and brown trout fishing on the Tongariro River. There’s a reason why the entry to the town is marked with a giant fisherman sculpture, so see what it’s all about by hiring a local guide or simply walking down the Tongariro River Trail to find the best fishing spots well marked.
Location: Along the Tongariro River Trail in Turangi
6. Go for a Dip in the Kuratau Lagoon
A fantastic picture opportunity and a good swimming spot for those who dare to brave the cold, the Kuratau Lagoon is where a freshwater spring emerges. See crystal clear waters amidst a towering gorge topped with forest. The walking track to get there is only about 5 minutes long but is rough and slippery when wet. Note that the track is not signposted, but you’ll be able to follow a faint trail.
Location: End of Kuratau Hydro Road (roadside parking area just before the hydro station – if you’re at the power station you’ve gone too far), 30km from Turangi.
7. Go White Water Rafting Down the Tongariro River
Further upstream on the Tongariro River are some epic grade 3 rapids to tackle – a great adventure for families or first-time rafters. Join your experienced guide as you tackle the rapids, look out for rare wildlife like the blue duck and immerse in spectacular river gorge scenery! A few times a year, the upper parts of the river open for grade 4 rafting! Book your trip with Tongariro River Rafting or Rafting New Zealand.
Location: Trips depart from Turangi.
8. See the Birthplace of the Haka at Opotaka
Capture sensational views across Lake Rotoaira to the venting Mt Tongariro from Opotaka. The picture opportunity is not the only reason to stop by this historic pa site (Maori village), as it is also the site where the “Ka Mate” Haka used by the All Blacks was said to have originated. The pa site has a couple of food storage pits to see, along with interpretation panels so you can learn more about the history.
Location: State Highway 47, 13km from Turangi.
9. Check Out the Wildlife at the Tongariro Trout Centre
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Turangi is kind of crazy about trout. Watch and feed the trout in the crystal clear streams of the Tongariro National Trout Centre, visit the museum and freshwater fish aquarium and enjoy a short bushwalk along the river where native birds like fantail, wood pigeons and herons are likely to be a feature.
Location: State Highway 1, 4km south of Turangi.
10. Hit the Slopes of Whakapapa
When winter comes, swap mountain hikes for mountain ski slopes at the Whakapapa ski field. Turangi is only 45 minutes away from New Zealand’s largest ski field on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. Witha gondola, chairlifts and New Zealand’s “highest cafe” Whakapapa has all the essentials to give you a great day on the slopes. Shuttles to the mountain are available from Turangi.
Location: State Highway 48. 54km from Turangi.