Family-friendly Things to Do in Taupo
Adventure, relax, learn and have fun as a family with these amazing things to do in Taupo with kids! With activities for families to suit a range of tastes, budgets and whatever the weather is doing, you’ll hardly get bored when visiting the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake.
Dive into our list of things to do in Taupo with kids below and get more travel advice in The Guide to Taupo for Families.
1. Cruise New Zealand’s Largest Lake and See the Maori Rock Carvings
Don’t just look at it, get on the “Great Lake” on one of the amazing cruises of Lake Taupo! For instance, join Chris Jolly Outdoors for a catamaran cruise with informative commentary of ecology, volcanology and cultural history of the lake on your way to the Maori Rock Carvings. Find out more about Chris Jolly Outdoors on Viator or Tripadvisor. Alternatively, set sail on Sail Barbary (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor) or Taupo Sailing Adventures (on Viator or Tripadvisor) for a relaxing wind-powered (if conditions are right) cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings, each with their own perks like refreshments, music and more.
Location: Tours depart from Redoubt Street (Lake Taupo Marina), Taupo town centre.
2. Blast Down the Waikato River on a Jet Boat Tour…
If you’re the type of family who prefers adventures to relaxation then opt for a jet boat tour! Your choices are Hukafalls Jet (also available on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Rapid Jets (see Viator and Tripadvisor) – both offering exceptional and unique blasts on different sections of the Waikato River. Hukafalls Jet will take you on a ride with 360 spins and super speed to the base of the mighty Huka Falls, while Rapids Jet will take you to ride the rapids and even catch some air. Children only need to be over 1 metre (3 feet) tall to participate. See how these jet boat tours compare in the 17 Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.
Location: Hukafalls Jet – Karetoto Road, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Taupo town centre. Rapids Jet – Nga Awa Purua Road, approximately 13km (8 miles) from Taupo town centre.
3. … Or Gently Float to Natural Hot Springs on a Family-friendly Kayaking Tour
Kayaking is one of the favourite pastimes in Taupo, but the best option for families is not on the lake but what is known as the “Waikato River Float”. Join either Canoe & Kayak Taupo (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Taupo Kayaking Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor) for a family-friendly journey along part of New Zealand’s longest river. Let the gentle current (and your kayaking guide, of course) take you on a journey where you’ll stop by some natural thermal springs for a soak. The tours are typically two hours long and there are double kayaks available should the smallest member of your family need to kayak with an adult.
Location: Canoe & Kayak Taupo – 54 Spa Road, Taupo town centre. Taupo Kayaking Adventures – Gates Park, Pois Road, just outside the town centre.
4. Let the Kids Loose on the Slides While You Relax at Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort
A good go-to any time of the year in any weather is one of the hot pool complexes in Taupo. A popular choice for families is Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort thanks to its warm water playground and waterslides. Kids love playing on the slides, spinning wheels and water mushroom, while the four-story Dragon Slide, where kids slide out of the dragon’s mouth, is pretty epic! There are multiple hot pool areas to enjoy a soak, as well as freshwater cooler pools where you can enjoy a family game of Marco Polo. Find out more about Taupo Debretts Spa Resort (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: 76 Napier-Taupo Road, approximately 4km (2 miles) from Taupo town centre.
5. Tackle the Choppy Rapids of the Tongariro River on a Family-friendly White Water Rafting Tour
It can be done in the rain or shine, so there’s no excuse to miss rafting the gentle rapids of the Tongariro River! Join either Tongariro River Rafting (on Viator or Tripadvisor) or Rafting New Zealand (on Viator or Tripadvisor) who both offer special trips for families navigating the choppy grade two rapids of the Tongariro River’s crystal clear waters. Look out for rare birds along the way, like the Blue Duck (Whio) and warm up with hot drinks, either before during or after the adventure, depending on which company you’re with. See more activities like this in the 12 Things to Do in Taupo on a Rainy Day.
Location: Both rafting companies are based in Turangi, approximately 50km (31 miles) from Taupo town centre. Transport from Taupo is available.
6. Marvel at the Mighty Huka Falls
Things can get pretty pricey on a family trip, so be sure to insert some of the free Taupo activities to keep control of your budget. A good place to start with with the free and most popular natural attraction in New Zealand, Huka Falls. Easily accessed from the car park along Huka Falls Road, Huka Falls has a bridge and a short walk to several viewing areas to marvel at the tumultuous rapids as the Waikato River squeezed through a narrow canyon.
Location: Huka Falls Road, 5km (3 miles) from Taupo town centre.
7. Explore the Sculpture Park at Lava Glass
Lava Glass is a popular go-to for families with lots to explore in the sculpture gardens – and by lots we mean 600 glass sculptures! With giant flowers, a glass rainbow, water features and more among native plantings, the gardens are sure to get the imaginations of the little ones running. On-site is also a glassblowing studio and a cafe to relax in when you’re done. Note that the gardens and the studio have separate fees.
Location: 165 State Highway 5, Wairakei, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Taupo town centre.
8. Fish for Prawns at the Huka Prawn Park
Yes, there is a park dedicated to all things “prawn” in Taupo and it just happens to be one of the top things to do in Taupo with kids! Get an understanding of why such a place exists on the guided behind-the-scenes tour of the prawn farm, hatchery and nursery. After that, it’s time to head to the pools to enjoy a wealth of activities, such as prawn fishing, cruising in the peddle boats, feeding trout, riding water bikes and dining in the on-site riverside restaurant.
Location: Karetoto Road, Wairakei, approximately 7km (4 miles) from Taupo town centre.
9. Watch the Bees in Action at the Huka Honey Hive
Also in the same area as the Huka Prawn Park is the Huka Honey Hive, a place to learn more about New Zealand’s famous honeybees! Families can taste New Zealand’s prestigious manuka honey and oggle at interactive displays to see the honeybees in action! There’s a cafe there too, should you need another excuse to keep caffeinated.
Location: Karetoto Road, Wairakei, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Taupo town centre.
10. Venture to Tongariro National Trout Centre
On your way in or out of the Taupo, don’t miss the Tongariro National Trout Centre just outside of Turangi. Lake Taupo and the Tongariro River are famous for their trout fishing, which you can learn about in a fun and interactive way for kids. See New Zealand’s native and introduced freshwater fish species in the aquariums, browse the museum and feed the trout in the shallow crystal clear streams surrounding the centre. The highlight is fishing for trout in the kids’ pool, as well as seeing the rare Blue Duck in the creche and enjoying short bushwalks where birdlife thrives along the Tongariro River.
Location: 257 State Highway 1, Rangipo, approximately 53km (33 miles) from Taupo town centre.