10 Best Adventure Activities in Taupo


Where to Find Adventure in Taupo

After reading this list of the adventure activities in Taupo, you’ll realise why this small town on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake is the adventure capital of the North Island. All your adrenaline bucket list activities are here: skydiving, bungy jumping, white water rafting, jet boating and oh-so-much more! But what makes doing these activities in Taupo different? Perhaps it’s the majestic volcanic cones of the Tongariro National Park, the mighty rapids tumbling over New Zealand’s longest river, or a gargantuan lake situated in the crater of a supervolcano? Whatever you decide to do, you’ll have unbelievable views to go with it.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in 10 Things to Do in Taupo at Night and 12 Things to do in Taupo on a Rainy Day.

1. Ride the Rapids in a Jet Boat

This isn’t your average New Zealand jet boat ride… This is white water rafting meets jet boating on the Waikato River! Join Rapids Jet for a thrill ride, air time and near misses as you speed along the mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river. This 35-minute tour takes you to the bottom of the famous Aratiatia Rapids before shooting through canyons downstream, stopping by a Lord of the Rings filming location and other highlights along the way. Check out Rapids Jet on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, dind more experiences like this in our 17 Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.

Location: Aratiatia©

2. Skydive Over New Zealand’s Largest Lake

It’s one of New Zealand’s best-loved adrenaline sports. Combine freefalling at 200km/h (124mph) with expansive views of Lake Taupo through skydiving. Skydives in Taupo go as high as 18,500ft, giving you 75 exhilarating second of freefall! Book your jump with Taupo Tandem Skydiving, i.e. the pink plane or the yellow plane, both offering accommodation pick-ups in a limousine. Find out more about Taupo Tandem Skydiving on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Taupo Airport©

3. Jump on a White Water Rafting Adventure

Discover some of the most exciting and intense environments in the North Island through white water rafting. With your expert guide, you’ll navigate the tumultuous rivers of either the Tongariro River or the Wairoa River on white water rafting trips departing from Taupo. Choose from grade 3 rapids on the Tongariro River open year-round, or step up your game with Access 14’s grade 4 rapids on the Tongariro River available a few times a year. The Wairoa River is a grade 5 river open several times a year and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Book your trip with either Rafting New Zealand (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Tongariro River Rafting (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Both companies do transfers from Taupo.

Location: Turangi©

4. Speed to the Bottom of Huka Falls in a Jet Boat

Sure, everyone’s seen Huka Falls from the bridge, but imagine getting up-close and personal with the ferocious rapids in a jet boat?! Hukafalls Jet does exactly that on a 30-minute thrilling ride up the Waikato River. Experience the excitement of 360-degree spins and near misses with river gorge walls that can only be experienced in a boat with a jet-propulsion system. After spending plenty of time under the falls (don’t worry splash jackets are available), you have the whole ride to enjoy back downstream. Transfers to Taupo are available. Find out more about Hukafalls Jet on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Wairakei©

5. Kayak to the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

Kayaking can be as “adventurous” or relaxed as you like! Either paddle hard or take it easy as you glide across the waters of Lake Taupo. Kayaking is a half-day mission from Acacia Bay, with clear days offering breathtaking views of the Central North Island volcanoes across the lake. Halfway through the tour, you’ll approach the towering Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings. Pick-ups from Taupo are available. Book your trip with Taupo Kayaking Adventures on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Acacia Bay

Taupo Kayaking Adventures © Taupo Kayaking Adventures

6. Fly Over Majestic Volcanoes

The sheer epic views from a scenic flight over the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park is definitely enough to make this an adventure activity in Taupo. Choose to fly either by helicopter with Inflight (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or by floatplane with Taupo Floatplane (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Soar over vibrant volcanic lakes, rugged mountain peaks, craters and Lake Taupo on a journey that is breathtaking in both summer and winter.

Location: Taupo Float Plane – Ferry Road & Inflight – Taupo Airport

Inflight Charters© Inflight Charters

7. Parasail Over the Great Lake

Throughout summer, a bright and colourful parachute can almost constantly be seen floating above the lake. For this reason alone, it’s hard to resist the allure of parasailing over Lake Taupo! Harness up solo or with a friend and glide at 1,000ft above the lake, even throwing in a water touch with your feet if you’re feeling adventurous. The flight lasts approximately 12 minutes.

Location: Taupo Marina

Inflight Charters©

8. Take the Leap with Taupo Bungy

If bungy jumping is on your New Zealand bucket list, then consider taking the leap at Taupo! Taupo Bungy is the home of New Zealand’s highest water-touch jump at 47m (154ft). Alternatively, try the Extreme Swing where you’ll freefall feet first over the Waikato River.

Location: Spa Road

Taupo Bungy© Taupo Bungy

9. Get Muddy on a Taupo Quad Bike Adventure

Blast through bush and bog on a self-drive quad biking safari in Taupo! Wind your way through native forest as you make your way to an awesome viewpoint with panoramic views. Trips are available for one, two or three hours. See more tours like this in our 10 Places to Quad Bike in New Zealand for Adventure Junkies.

Location: Maroa

Taupo Quad Adventures© Taupo Quad Adventures

[CLOSED] Ride in a Jet Boat to a Geothermal Park or Some Hidden Hot Pools

[Update: New Zealand Riverjet is no longer operating]. That’s right, there’s more jet boating action to be had in Taupo. Located on the road between Rotorua and Taupo, this adventure with New Zealand Riverjet is best done if you have your own transport. It’s definitely worth it though as you enjoy a scenic journey down the Waikato River and the majestic Tutukau Gorge. You’ll either hop off the boat to the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park or join your jet boat guide on a canyon scramble to a secret natural hot pool! On the way back, your driver picks up the speed and throws in some 360-spins!

Location: Mihi©


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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